Monday, 28 May 2007


Leaf London's trees alone

Up to 2,000 London street trees have been given the chop in the past
five years, condemned by usually unwarranted subsidence claims, a London Assembly report has revealed.

In some boroughs up to 40 per cent of trees removed have been due to
insurance claims. Yet the Assembly's Environment Committee heard that barely one per cent of these claims were probably justified.

A survey showed that, over the past five years, 40 per cent of the 325 trees removed in Hackney, 16 per cent of 1,500 trees in Brent and ten per cent of the 600 trees in Camden have been removed because of subsidence claims.

In total London has lost around 40,000 street trees with 48,000 planted over the last five years. However London has suffered an overall loss of broadleaf trees and many of the new trees that have been planted are smaller, ornamental varieties. Ornamental varieties do not have the same environmental benefits as broad leaf trees, which play a vital role in protecting the capital from the effects of global warming.

The Assembly Environment Committee report, A Chainsaw Massacre, also
highlights an urgent need for action from local authorities,landlords,developers and residents to increase the number of street trees as part of the battle against climate change.

Darren Johnson Green Party Assembly Member, Chair of the Assembly Environment Committee said:
"This report calls for direct level action to help London adapt to the effects of climate change and help maintain its status as one of the greenest cities on the planet.

"London's treescape is changing. Our investigation has found a net gain of over 8,000 trees planted across the capital in the past five years. But we need to plant, maintain and protect more broadleaf trees which provide the real benefits for future generations."

The report identifies further measures to maintain and protect the
capital's trees,including:

* Insurance companies must provide better quality investigations
with nationally recognised guidance to avoid pointless subsidence claims
* Developers should include broadleaf tree planting and
maintenance in the design and planning of new developments
* Borough street tree data must be maintained and updated to allow
for effective monitoring of London's treescape
* Best practice on community engagement,funding,planting,
maintenance and protection of street trees
should be drawn together into a 'London tree survival guide'

The Committee called for London boroughs to explore funding and
sponsorship from private developers through planning agreements to meet the cost of maintaining trees.

Darren Johnson said: "Our recommendations put forward sensible and
practical measures to safeguard the treasures of our streets. We all
have a role to play in ensuring London trees continue to flourish."

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