Tree maintenance on council land
Trees are one of the few landscape features that cross all the boundaries of modern urban living. They are of huge benefit to our community; helping to enhance streetscapes, reduce climatic extremes, improve air quality, and provide a habitat for wildlife. They touch every aspect of our lives; our homes; our work; our journey to work and our recreational space. The benefits of trees and green spaces in terms of health, well being and environmental enhancement are well researched and documented, and should not be underestimated.
Trees in parks help us make life more pleasant for residents, workers and visitors. Their presence can help towards creating tranquillity and reducing stress.
Trees have many benefits, including:
- Providing shelter
Trees reduce wind speed around buildings, and their dappled shade provides a useful barrier from ultra violet radiation.
- Cooling the air
Trees regulate evaporation, and have an effect on shade and heat retention. Trees release oxygen into the air.
- Stabilising soil
Soil erosion on areas where there are no trees can be up to one thousand times greater than a tree covered area.
- Filtering air pollution
Trees act as filters to remove particulate pollution deposited on leaves. Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and can help to mitigate against emissions considered harmful to planet earth’s ozone layer.
- Creating wildlife habitats
Trees of varying ages provide homes for wildlife, shelter, food and support a wide range of variety of mammals, birds and insects.
- Improving the landscape
The presence of trees frequently provides a softening effect to built structures. Trees can form backdrops to urban settings to improve people’s enjoyment of the landscape.
Tree maintenance regimes
We intend to manage our trees so that they make a positive contribution to their locality; are as safe as possible and do not cause excessive nuisance. Equally we wish to see more people benefit from the presence of trees by ensuring a more equal distribution of tree cover across the district.
We have in place a routine schedule of tree inspections. The frequency of inspections depends on the tree itself and considerations of age/location/condition are defining factors when inspections are carried out. Trees are also ‘zoned’ according to the risk of them failing and causing serious injury or damage.
- Zone 1
Frequent public access to trees (e.g. parks/ recreation grounds; in and around picnic areas; schools; children’s playgrounds; popular footpaths; car parks or at the side of busy roads). As a rough guide trees in zone 1 are those that are closely approached by many people every day. Typically trees that fall within zone 1 are inspected annually.
- Zone 2
Less frequent public access areas but still visited by members of the public (e.g. large open areas). These trees are usually inspected between 1 – 3 years.
- Zone 3
Areas not subject to frequent public access. Usually inspected between 3 – 5 years.
Trees in parks and open spaces are managed to reflect the circumstances of any one site and the type, age and condition of the trees. Trees in parks generally have more room to grow compared to the street and hence typically grow to their full height and spread. Ongoing maintenance includes the removal of dead wood; formative pruning (to remove problems in the tree form when the tree is young so avoiding expensive problems later); removing low branches from pathways and the removal of trees when they come to the end of their safe and useful life. Available resources will be used to plant new trees where a need is identified.
Tree removal is regrettable but under a number of circumstances necessary. The decision to fell a tree is not taken lightly and, apart from when a dangerous tree needs attention, we will publicise our maintenance schedule either via the website, or by use of site notices.
Most trees that need to be felled have become unsafe and there is no cost effective solution to otherwise retain the tree. Other reasons why trees need to be removed include a tree is completely out of scale with its surroundings; where its removal would benefit surrounding trees; or new planting schemes have been implemented.
Tree work will be prioritised, and work requiring more urgent attention will be dealt with first.