Sir, – Given that we are celebrating National Tree Week, can I ask is anybody actually mapping the existing mature trees, hedgerows and areas of biodiversity that currently exist in our towns, cities and rural communities throughout Ireland?
If so, is this taken into account when local area plans are drawn up or when planning permission is sought for development? It seems to me that very often trees are low on the list of priorities when it comes to planning decisions. Often approval seems to be given for the removal of all trees, hedges and seed banks. They apparently are seen as having no intrinsic value, regardless of their rarity, longevity or life-supporting properties.
Many studies highlight the benefits of planting more trees in urban areas to reduce air and noise pollution and aid well-being. Sadly, we are seeing less, not more, trees and those that are planted will take many years to grow to the size of those they are replacing. Instead of having inter-linking areas of biodiversity, it seems that some new developments are instead creating small islands of communal grassy space.
Trees and hedges under the control of local authorities can also be at risk. They can be lost to road widening or the creation of bus or cycle corridors or “pruned” so drastically that it is hard for them to recover. The green oasis of a local park such as Shanganagh Park in Shankill can also be vulnerable if it is seen as open space that can be used in other ways. Even the capital’s St Stephen’s Green is not exempt from this.
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How long will it be before we wake up to the fact that the trees we have now are needed now, along with many more, if we are to tackle the twin issues of climate crisis and biodiversity breakdown? – Yours, etc,