Two days, and two people have shared with me their sorrow about trees in Derby being cut down. First was the avenue of lime trees alongside Liversage Street Car Park. Second were flowering cherry trees on Chaddesden Park Road.
The lime trees are going to make way for the first stage of the Castleward development.
A year ago when I enquired about this, I was told that they had been planted close together and never thinned or pruned so their branches had grown together and it was now not practical to thin or prune them back into an acceptable shape. There was a vision for an avenue of trees along here – but they would have to be new trees.
This was agreed by the council’s Planning Committee last year. The report is available on line and gives some reasons for the loss of trees – and also states that some elsewhere are to be retained and more planted.
Flowering cherry trees, with dense pale pink blossoms, and whose petals make drifts along the garden walls… I guess I’m not the only person with wonderful childhood memories of these! Chaddesden Park Road was not unique in having such a spectacular display. They seem to have been planted in many places 50 or more years ago. These are old trees now.
The problem here is not so much the removal of the trees, but people not knowing why. And whether they will be replaced. A note to local residents to let them know that the trees are dying, that rots are setting in, would have been appreciated. And now that he knows, the local Lib Dem campaigner in the area – Richard Hudson – will be telling people what’s happening – and that replacement trees will be planted.
You might be able to tell that I have a soft spot for trees. I generally like my trees naturally shaped, healthy and, if possible, productive. I also have a preference for native species – unless this conflicts with that earlier point about productivity. One doesn’t get native British walnut or apricot trees – but these and other useful non-natives trees get my approval too.
Lots of other people have a soft spot for trees – even if at certain times of year people can become annoyed by sap dripping from them, fallen leaves or shading solar panels (the last is a recent reason for complaint!).
It is becoming more and more important to plant trees, and to plant trees in cities. As the climate changes, summer heatwaves will become more frequent and temperatures higher. Trees – especially large trees – can reduce the temperature in the air around them by several degrees, making a significant difference to a city’s climate.
Trees can also be good wildlife habitats – and this is where native trees are so important. Birds will eat many sorts of berries and other fruits. Insects and other creatures which form parts of the food web can be fussier, eating the leaves, buds and bark from particular types of trees. Planting native species, like oaks, beeches, alders and birches help ensure that many wild creatures can live happily alongside us.
Finally trees can be a resource for humans too. They can provide a harvest of fruit and nuts, leaves for composting and mulching, timber for contruction and fuel – and can provide shelter from the rain and sun, and can even lift the spirits as things of beauty.
I can remember the “Plant a tree in ’73” campaign. 40 years on, it feels a good time to plant some more!