Green.org sat down with David Elliott, Chief Executive at Trees for Cities, to learn how they aim to plant urban trees and create greener cities. Since 1993, the organisation has reported that 125,000 volunteers have planted over 1,200,000 urban trees in parks, streets, woodlands, schools, hospitals and housing estates.
David, thanks for being here. Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I am Chief Executive of the UK-based non-profit organisation, Trees for Cities. I have undertaken this role for seven years, and have spent most of my career in management positions in the charity sector. The roles and organisations that I have worked in and sought out have been those looking to solve the pressing issues of our time – this is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
What is a fun fact about you?
I used to clear landmines, so am a good person to be around if you need a bomb-disposal expert! (Perhaps not a ‘fun’ fact though!)
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
We can see environmental loss and damage happening in front of our eyes. This is not a slow-burning, multigenerational process of degradation. Almost every year new climate records seem to be surpassed and natural disasters become more frequent and devastating. In my lifetime alone the decimation of global biodiversity and bio-abundance has been staggering. If we pause or go slowly we will pass more and more irreversible tipping points. It is such an important topic today because it decides our futures, and those of our children.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I hope that in 10 years’ time environmental charities are being provided with the resources to reach their potential and effect genuine systemic change. Despite the environmental precipice that we find ourselves teetering on, in UK the environment sector as a whole receives a pitiful level of funding in comparison to others and only really has the resources to scratch the surface of what must be done.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Be a powerful advocate within your place of work. Organisations and businesses have enormous capacity and resources to make real difference. The collective footprint of our businesses contributes to a significant proportion of the sustainability challenges we face – yet most businesses are full of people who care and who want to see their organisations doing all they can to minimise their role in this. A few loud voices are often all it takes to get the balls rolling.