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Editorial view: Street trees should be treasured

PUBLISHED: 08:30 14 November 2019

A recently planted in Kentish Town Road which has since died. Picture: HARVEY FLINDER

A recently planted in Kentish Town Road which has since died. Picture: HARVEY FLINDER

Archant

One of life's simple pleasures is walking down a tree-lined street, whatever the season.

The sight of the cherry blossom coming out in the spring puts a smile on anyone's face, the leafy plane trees provide much needed shade in summer and as is currently the case, the rustle of leaves beneath your feet in the autumn takes me back to school days. They're a vital public resource that should be cherished.

So the accusation that Camden isn't managing its street trees properly is worrying.

On the newsdesk we've had calls from all boroughs from locals who are sad to see their trees being, in their eyes, needlessly pollarded.

The fact that Camden appears to be pollarding its trees more routinely than other boroughs is curious. Especially as the level of insurance claims is broadly in line with its neighbours.

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As Harvey Flinder points out, pollarding at the wrong time of year without proper assessment can prove fatal for less hardy trees.

Meanwhile its planting methods have also come under fire with saplings failing. While it has a target to plant 400 trees a year, which it missed last year, actually the net gain is minimal.

Yet this is the borough which declared a climate emergency earlier this year. It's unclear how the two match up.

While a new tree planting strategy will be produced next year, it's frustrating that it has taken this long for action to be taken. Campaigners say that the council is still in denial about the full extent of the issue. It's the same as the Citizens' Assembly that Camden ran earlier this year on the climate crisis. A fantastic, bold idea. But a formal plan from the council won't come back for another year.

There is no reason to doubt the council's sincerity. But action needs to be braver, bolder and quicker. More meetings and workshops risks losing valuable time in tackling the problems.

After all, we have nothing to lose but our polluted air. Let's make sure future generations enjoy the same benefits we do.

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