What most of us value is a good environment with all the protections in place for us to maintain it.
Many trees, whether veteran or with protected status, should be listed to provide additional protection. A protected tree is only as good as the local authority wishes it to be.
When Tower Hamlets were about to fell eleven protected trees and uproot an ancient tree to make space for a private development, The East London Garden Society requested all London boroughs for details of their protected trees and to include the number and their species.
What began as an enquiry under The Freedom of Information Act has brought to light how each London borough regards its responsibility for the environment and there are glaring differences between them. Out of thirty-two London boroughs, Waltham Forest has failed to reply to our request. Those who have replied can be seen below.
Remember, these trees are supposed to be protected. If there is no listing or a record of the species, how can they be protected?
The East London Garden Society has viewed the websites of the local authorities which have failed to replied. Tower Hamlets has an interactive map which is not usable and Waltham Forest states they protect clusters of trees.
As can be seen from the replies, not all local authorities comply with the regulations.
The Statutory Regulations relating to protected trees states that a Tree Preservation Order:
Protected Trees are a matter or importance, not only for the provision of oxygen, but as a marker for how much our concern for the local environment is shown. If local authorities are not complying with current legislation, how much are they going to care about our the environment in general?
Trees are prominent in all environments and offer many protections as well as providing us with a great level of oxygen. Trees were the major influence of allowing life to thrive by providing the oxygen we now breathe.
The survey results below show there is not a common policy on the protection of trees in London. Some boroughs had no wish to provide protection and some found it not in the public interest to show where protected trees exist, if at all.
A protected tree is not protected if a local authority believes it to impede a development. A good example of that is the Bethnal Green Mulberry Tree, a 500-year-old tree, found to be in the way of a private development. In this particular conservation area, eleven protected trees are to be felled along with twenty-seven mature trees, all over 100 years of age.
This will cause devastation to the ecological system, but the worst mistake is the failure to recognise this. Would the Council have given approval for a grade 1 listed building to be demolished? We think not!
The mind set of officials, elected or otherwise, intent on not recognising the value of trees in an urban setting is appalling. There is no protection for trees but there should be because once we decide that trees are expendable much else will follow and our cities will become less attractive.
The following Boroughs have provided their information. See if trees in your street are included.