I mentioned an impending report by the Greater London Assembly’s environment committee on London’s trees a while back but forgot to say that it had now been published, with the catchy title ‘Chainsaw Massacre’.
In broad summary, the Environment Committee concludes that most trees are felled for health and safety reasons, and that local authorities are over-influenced by claims of subsidence and other risks, and do not give sufficient weight to the long-term and wider social benefits of urban trees. (This certainly chimes with recent personal experience dealing with a proposal from my local council to cut two trees down for apparent safety reasons where the level of problem and risk became more trivial the more we challenged it).
“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.”
The overall number of trees in London overall is increasing, but the number of mature broadleafs is declining.
The Committee suggests that councils need much better consultation processes on the management of trees, and also that neighbourhoods should have the right to ask councils for more trees in their streets – rather than just having a negative fight to stop trees being cut down.