The Star Says: Trees stir emotions of city residents

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There are some topics which exercise Star readers more than others.

Whenever we investigate issues around trees then our postbag and inbox fills up quicker than usual - and with good reason too. People of the city believe the trees of Sheffield add so much value, by boosting wildlife, air quality, flood prevention and the area’s appearance, that they should be retained at all costs.

However, often when we’re reporting on the subject it is because trees are under the threat of removal.

The two sides of this debate have been fought before, many times.

Residents believe it is easier, quicker and cheaper for trees to be chopped down by Streets Ahead than retained and fear it will damage their leafy communities.

But as Jeremy Willis, operations manager for grounds and arboriculture at Sheffield Council contractor Amey, says in our feature in today’s paper: “Sheffield is the greenest city in Europe and we don’t want to lose that.”

It is worth reading the article as Streets Ahead took The Star out to see some of its work on trees – which also includes pruning overhanging branches – during the planting season.

On Greenhill Main Road, near Greenhill Parkway, 32 new trees were being carefully planted to improve the area.

Down the road at Ansell Way workers were suspended high in the branches of another tree to cut them back – away from the mass of wires stretching between homes.

Interestingly, like most trees in Sheffield, these specimens were planted in Victorian times, before the overhead wires were installed.

That, and a lack of investment in roads over many decades, are said to be factors in why trees are now being removed. So it isn’t as simple as trees being taken away just for the sake of it.

However, people care passionately, not only for the environmental benefits of the trees, but also for the character they provide to their neighbourhoods.

When a promise is made to replant an equivalent number of trees then every effort needs to be made that they are as close as possible to the originals.

Removal of trees needs to be a very last resort, when public safety is in immediate danger.

Everyone wants a green city to be proud of and so we should work together to ensure we don’t destroy what we have got.