It's a simple message: If you care about preserving London's image as the Forest City, plant more.

The city has released the first phase of its tree-planting strategy and says London needs to cover the equivalent of 400 Victoria Park with trees over the next 50 years to meet its target.

The ultimate goal is to obtain 34 per cent tree canopy coverage by 2065.

"It is lofty, but I think we need to be inspired," says Jill-Anne Spence, the city's manager of urban forestry.

The new strategy focuses on the first five years of the long-range goal.

From the city report Plant More

A report says London needs to fill 400 'Victoria Parks’ with new trees by 2065 (City of London)

"We really want to plant as many trees as possible, as soon as possible, because that means the quicker we can get trees in the ground, the quicker they are to grow and to provide the great environmental benefits that they provide to our communities," said Spence.

Those benefits include shading and cooling, improving the quality of water and air, reducing storm water runoff and defining community character.

The report, which goes to city politicians next week, outlines an action plan to achieve results. Key points include:

  • Reducing new tree mortality to help extend the average life span of trees from 50 to 55.5 years.
  • Implementing a long-term communications strategy to educate and engage citizens about tree protection and planting goals.
  • Planting the largest-growing and longest-lived species suitable for each location.

The city is starting from a loss position. The report points out London's tree cover decreased to 23.7 per cent in 2015 from 24.7 per cent in 2008 due mainly to the loss of ash trees from the emerald ash border.

The public is expected to play a big role in future tree planting because, according to Spence, 90 per cent of the tree planting opportunities in London are on private land. The city owns the remaining 10 per cent.

Spence said providing incentives for planting will be a "big piece" of the plan. The city is already offering what's known as a "Tree Me" grant, and she said there will be new opportunities in 2018.

The city has set aside $1.5 million a year annually for tree planting and related activities through 2019.