This tree issue has been used to portray people living in the ‘leafy suburbs’ attacking the Labour council and not caring about other parts of the city.
This is far from the truth. There are Save the Street Trees campaign groups all over the city now, with support offered to set up new tree action groups around the city.
It doesn’t matter what politics you hold, if you have any care for the environment of our city you can’t fail to be severely disturbed by this destruction of our trees and the pillaging of the fabric of our city (our valuable assets in the form of timber, lamp posts and flag stones have been handed to Amey).
Anyway, I will stress that even the most fervent tree supporters recognise that some trees, identified for felling, are diseased or dangerous and accept that they may need to be felled. The vast majority are healthy and causing minimum or no disruption to pavements.
The projected tree loss, which I have read is estimated at 75 per cent (27,000 of our 36,000 trees) will affect the whole city.
Many solid valid reasons have been offered as to why we should not lose these trees, and reasonably priced solutions to sort the pavements out, without felling the trees, have been researched and suggested to the council and Amey.
I am sure the readers are familiar with the bulk of the concerns.
I would like to offer some other, less voiced issues. We know about the general feeling of wellbeing that trees offer to most people, what about the shade from the sun on hot summer days, the welcome cool that trees provide, whether a pedestrian, cyclist or motorist?
Will we see an increase in skin cancer or cases of heat stroke?
We could see a rise in mental health issues, physical health issues, obesity (leading to diabetes, mobility problems), perhaps, if people find it less desirable to walk.
Not only do pedestrians enjoy the weather moderation but also the feeling of safety by having sturdy trees to separate us from the roads.
Many people are not able to visit our lovely parks regularly for various reasons, eg due to disability, lack of time, mental health, other illness.
For these people our urban wildlife can provide so much pleasure, even a lifeline, watching the birds in the trees, including our migratory friends like waxwing and redwing, the gentle humming of the bees in the spring blossom before many of the other flowers are in bloom, providing a connection with nature which they could not otherwise access.
Trees regulate our environment, not only by taking in carbon and mitigating heavy rainfall, but also as wind breaks. There is less frost and ice around trees in the winter and they keep our urban areas cooler in the summer.
As temporary custodians of the space we occupy during our lives we should not be making environmentally unsound decisions about the future of the city.
This council is happy for the trees to go, but this council is temporary (even if they get voted in again), councillors will retire and new ones might disagree with what the present council is doing.
When they retire will they think ‘That was a job well done’ or ‘I should have listened to the people I was supposed to represent’.
We can’t bring the trees back and there is no way that any compensation would be adequate for what we are losing, this is a no return action.
We should be planting new trees WITH the present ones so that when they do eventually die the new ones will be semi-mature. Many streets have enough space between trees to plant new ones, including where the trees here and there have disappeared, providing a gradual replenishment.
People with mobility issues and those with pushchairs have told me that they have not really found any problem with the majority of our pavement surfaces.
What they do have trouble with is cars parked on the pavements and the excessive street furniture which seems to have increased significantly over the last few years. This is also a problem for cyclists and motorists.
If we also lose the vegetation in our river valleys, those rivers which made Sheffield, centuries ago, I don’t think I can stay in this city; a place I love, where my life, my work, my family and friends are.
The concrete jungles we are developing are costing our planet dear. We need to incorporate and preserve as much space for nature as we can.
To the stubborn councillors: you are responsible for irreparable environmental damage, there is no excuse – all the reasons to halt this felling and all the cost-effective solutions have been presented to you.
Do you see this as a battle of wills? Or are there other reasons you won’t budge? I am disgusted!