Monday 22 July 2019

Edinburgh City Council signed the Tree Charter, now what?

I've blogged before about how Edinburgh Council has mistreated trees and chopped down trees that probably shouldn't have been chopped down (for example did all those trees at Meadowbank need to be destroyed so a new, smaller sports centre with added flats could be built? Did all those trees in Princes Street Gardens need to be destroyed to create a disabled access pathway to the Galleries? Did all those trees at Picardy Place need to be detroyed just so the junction can be made easier for motor vehicles?).

Theoretically this should all change now, as Council Leader Adam MacVey, on behalf of Edinburgh City Council, signed up to the Woodland Trust's Tree Charter in May this year, becoming the first Scottish council to do so. This is obviously to be applauded.

However I wouldn't be the only person to be cynical about this. Just as addressing climate change needs targets to be met not only set, so does signing the Tree Charter need to be backed up with positive action to actually protect trees.

But what do we find? We find that actions in city centre areas continue to compromise the health of trees.

Last year during preparations for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the trees in Charlotte Square were put under undue stress by being used to prop up heavy materials and by the use of machinery which compacted the soil around the trees. The Woodland Trust  have urged Edinburgh Council to take better care of the trees this year when the Book Festival is set up again in August. Already this year, the big wheel in Princes Street Gardens has already been set up and the inappropriate development around the matures trees has been flagged up by Woodland Trust and other concerned organisations and individuals (see this tweet).

The Woodland Trust are asking the council if one of the tree officers will advise those working on events in the city to respect the appropriate guidance for managing developments around trees during both the set up and take down of any structures.  

The Tree Charter principle on planning greener local landscapes stipulates that planners and developers respect the value of mature trees and the connection between trees and people. 

Mature trees are beautiful, help people to connect with nature and help mitigate the effects of climate change in urban areas. What does the big wheel in Edinburgh's city centre offer that has even half that value? 

So, Edinburgh Council, are you going to actually commit to truly valuing the wonderful trees in our city or was signing up to the Tree Charter just a publicity stunt? 

1 comment:

Jeff (Sage) said...

Trees are in a constant battle here, as people think they need wider roads or more lanes. At lease Edinburgh has good public transportation!