Shade, shelter and wildlife

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The trees of Sheffield are a trademark of this city, contributing to its green infrastructure.

Street trees provide shade and shelter for pedestrians, as well as wildlife corridors for insects, birds and small mammals. Habitats for these creatures are declining at an alarming rate.

Most readers will be aware of the reduction in the number of bees, in part due to loss of habitat. In spring before many flowers have bloomed you can hear the buzzing of bees around trees which are in blossom, which provides essential food for the queen bees as they start their colonies. The flowers on the lime trees provide nectar and pollen, aphids feeding on the leaves produce honeydew which bees drink.

The air quality in Sheffield City Centre does not meet national air quality standards and pollution levels exceed EU limits. Trees (especially mature) help to clean the air.

The air quality will decline if there is a sudden loss of many of our mature trees, as is happening and proposed to happen, across Sheffield.

For example, trees such as lime and sycamore that thrive in urban areas have sticky leaves which collect and trap dust and harmful PM10 particles and so help reduce airborne pollution.

It is important that future generations should reap the benefits of living among mature trees and to this end new trees should be planted and these should be native species.

Leaves provide a great mulching material for gardens, they can be added to compost heaps or composted down, adding humus to our soils (if composting is not an option you could ask the council for a green bin, there is a fee for using this service).

Other people complain about the shade – for most people the tree will have been there when they moved in, the issue of shade could have been considered at this stage. Neither of these issues warrant the felling of a tree.

The removal of trees can cause ‘heave’, where an excess of water causes the earth in the ground to expand and ‘heave’ the property upwards and outwards. Trees help regulate the water in the soil. Clay-based soils which dry out during the summer then expand greatly when there is heavy rainfall can create sufficient force to move buildings.

Tree roots (especially from street trees) do not generally compromise building structures. Where disruption to pavement surfaces occurs, a little modification in the resurfacing program can iron this out.

A tree strategy needs to be developed whereby work can be carried out around the trees, rather than removing them. The saplings replacing the mature trees do not offer the same benefits as the mature trees and should be growing in tandem with them not instead of them and should be native species.

The disruption to the surface by tree roots on Rustlings Road is not severe enough to warrant removal of the trees, this road is due for resurfacing, retention of the trees should be part of the process.

Obviously the pavement does need to be resurfaced, I am not suggesting otherwise however, I believe that Amey have not explored any other option than removal of the trees.

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