On the wildside: Destruction of trees is completely over the top

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George Washington was famously asked ‘Who cut down the cherry tree?’. I now ask who chopped down willows, poplars and maybe cherries?

I would check but ooops, too late, they have gone.

We live in a ‘here today, gone tomorrow society’ and, with Sheffield’s trees, increasingly so.

You may know the big Meadowhead roundabout in Sheffield which until recently boasted well-established trees from the ring road construction.

Now three small trees remain, temporarily spared because pigeons nest in them.

Having talked with workmen on site, who were helpful and actually both thoughtful and concerned about what they were doing, I can summarise.

The major junction has traffic issues, so the roundabout is being reduced in size, and the outer rim of the site (NB without any trees) is being removed.

So far so good, and no real problems. However, it was apparently deemed necessary to remove all trees (except the pigeon nest trees), in order to make the roundabout smaller. As far as I can see, this was unnecessary, and over the top. It took about 40 years for the site to establish, and work to reduce the roundabout does not require the loss of all the trees.

This type of incident raises all sorts of issues about communication and especially about conservation priorities, strategies and commitments established over several decades and which still apply to contractors and agents of the council.

I have been inundated with complaints about street trees generally, and about this site in particular, and I expect many more.

It seems that Sheffield’s once robust green credentials are now in serious doubt and verging on becoming embarrassingly tattered. Meadowhead is a major arterial route into Sheffield, supposedly the greenest, best-wooded industrial city in Western Europe. Visitors are now greeted by a barren wasteland where previously there was a very attractive approach.

This really is not acceptable, does not accord with established policies or commitments, and makes no economic sense either. 

The workers said they were under orders from Amey who were contracted by the city council.

However, Amey assured me that this was not so and they have nothing to do with it.

So, who dunnit and who is spending our cash-strapped resources on this destruction?

Own up and wake up. 

* Professor Ian D. Rotherham, researcher, writer and broadcaster on wildlife and environmental issues, is contactable on ianonthewildside@ukeconet.co.uk; follow ‘Ian’s Walk on the Wildside’, UKEconet for more information.