Stop calling saplings replacements

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I contest the view that a five-year-old sapling is anything like a comparison to a century-old, well-established, large-crowned, street tree.

First of all, 25 per cent of these so called ‘replacements’ will die. They are poorly planted, in ill-prepared soil, with no space for their root ball to grow. They are not regularly watered in the manner that is required after planting. To add insult to injury, weedkiller is sprayed round their base to prevent weeds - but is detrimental to the health of these young trees also. Look at the dying trees on Derek Dooley Way or Meadowhead, for examples. Also the dying London planes in Endcliffe Park.

Then factor in the ecosystem goods and services that our old trees provide, in terms of pollution control, flood prevention, temperature regulation, biodiversity, habitat, health and well being. If the monetary value of such services had been assessed in a Street Tree Strategy, as Torbay Council have done using software such as i-Tree ( – it would be clear that saplings do not offer the same level of provision that our mature stock do, in terms of ecosystem benefits.

So stop calling saplings replacements for our well established old street trees. Because they simply are not.

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