Sheffield hails as being one of if not the greenest city in Europe where there are more trees per person than any other European city. We, as residents of Sheffield love our green heritage and enjoy driving through the leafy streets throughout all the seasons. But over the last year according to some figures more than 3,000 of the 36,000 roadside trees have been felled and supposedly 7,000 more are to be removed as part of the council’s controversial tree removal program.
As a local tree surgeon who is keen to preserve and care for trees this issue interests me especially as it has received so much negative press over the months. Im interested not only from a professional aspect but also as sympathetic point of view as I care for trees but also understand the aesthetic value such trees have in the area of Sheffield as well as the positive affect they have on the environment.
The council has approved a 5 year tree management strategy to look after the trees around the Sheffield highways, this management strategy involves assessing the roadside trees and then deciding what should be done. Obviously assessing each of the roadside trees in Sheffield is essential as we want to drive on Sheffield roads feeling safe that a large branch or even worse a tree will not fall and kill or injure any of the public. I’ve walked along many roads looking at trees spotting hazards such as dead wood over hanging the road or snapped out dead branches sitting on other branches which could fall. So I appreciate the value of good tree management not just because of the safety aspect but also to the health of the tree.
However there are a few issues with Sheffield City Councils approach to such works that have been carried out already. The main issue is the fact that they are removing healthy trees by the road simply because it encroaches into the road or bringing up pavement, the highways agency want clean pavement lines and smooth roads at low maintenance costs and while we would all agree with smooth Sheffield roads but not by sacrificing healthy trees. Healthy trees by the road are priceless when it comes to cities, more and more cars are on the roads meaning more air pollution, these trees help keep on top of that.
The other thing issue I have is with their re-planting of trees. Many of the new trees I’ve seen are poor in quality, they either have had there main stem cut so the tree will never grow nicely or the top of the tree has been cut off. I think if they are taking over 10,000 trees out they need to be planting 10,000 quality trees.
My final thoughts are that all trees need to be managed, and in managing trees sometimes trees in poor condition need to be cut down especially ones endangering the public. However trees are replanted to replace the ones that have been removed, but for Sheffield to remain one of the greenest cities in Europe good quality trees need to be planted, ones that will stand the test of time and be the future of Sheffield trees.