AT least 50,000 trees will be planted across York during the next three years - after councillors heard the city has only five per cent tree cover.

The new trees will help tackle climate change - but could also benefit residents’ mental health, boost wildlife and reduce the risk of flooding, a council meeting heard.

Cllr Derek Wann put forward plans for a new tree planting policy which would see the council look for space in the city where saplings could be planted.

He said: “As a tree matures it can absorb more than 20kg of carbon dioxide in a year.

“A tree can release enough oxygen for a human to breathe for two years.

“They are one of the best ways of reducing carbon dioxide and we know a tree planting solution is best developed here in the city.”

Cllr Anne Hook added: “Tree planting is an important tool in combating the effects of climate change as well as being crucial in removing pollutants from the air.”

Green Party member Tom Franklin told the meeting: “York has very few trees compared to other cities and this is a shame.

“Trees are good for people’s mental health.

“It’s important that we plant more trees upstream from York to reduce flooding.”

Currently York has five per cent tree cover - and organisation Friends of the Earth recommends that this should be at least doubled, according to Cllr Rosie Baker.

She also asked for an update on the council’s progress to develop a pollinator action plan - which was launched in July and due to see wildflowers planted across the city’s grass verges.

Cllr Bob Webb welcomed the tree planting initiative, saying: “We need to get a move on – fantastic, I think it's brilliant that we are supporting trees. I think this council needs to do much more to support sustainability given we have called a climate emergency.”

But the local authority should look to plant mature trees, as well as saplings, according to Lord Mayor Cllr Janet Looker, who said it can take a long time for young trees to provide the full carbon dioxide-reducing benefits.

After taking over the council in May, the Liberal Democrat and Green Party coalition announced they would put £66,000 towards creating a new carbon reduction and sustainability officer role at the local authority.

Cllr Kallum Taylor asked that, as part of the tree planting policy, the role that was funded in June be advertised for recruitment no later than January 31.

Councillors voted in favour of the tree planting plans.

The move means a report will be prepared for senior councillors, asking them to approve a scheme to plant at least 50,000 trees across York, find suitable council-owned land where trees can be planted and identify where ‘green corridors’ can be created to encourage the movement of wildlife through urban areas.