The Conservation and Trees Manager introduced a report on Tree Management during 2013. He outlined issues dealt with in the report, including evaluation of tree and woodland resources, the arboricultural skills resource across the North London Open Spaces, the growing threat of tree disease and impact on workload, recent storm damage and extreme weather events, and the impact of the Ponds Project on adjacent trees.
Colin Gregory welcomed the report and paid tribute to the dedication, skills and expertise of the Tree Team, and further welcomed the fact that succession planning was being carried out to ensure these skills were kept. He posed two questions regarding the difference between the iTree software package versus the Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT) package; and over what thought was being put into replacement trees in the event of severe tree loss due to disease.
In response the Conservation and Trees Manager replied that replacement planting of elm had been conducted over the past few years to counter the effect of Dutch Elm Disease, and that a replacement programme of Wild Service Trees was also being implemented, mainly around hedgerows. Regarding planning for the event of a major outbreak of tree disease, he noted that current advice in the event of an outbreak of Ash Dieback was to leave trees in situ to avoid spreading the disease further by removing them.
He added that the iTree and CAVAT systems were distinct but complimentary – whilst the iTree system had been developed in the USA, CAVAT was a system designed by the London Tree Officers Association to secure political awareness of the value of trees. They would therefore likely be used in conjunction with one another.
In response to a comment from Jeremy Wright regarding the replacement of trees with species more likely to cope with climate change, the Conservation and Trees Manager replied that this was an issue that was being considered. Jeremy Wright expressed his appreciation for the work of the Tree Team and the hope that their expertise would be maintained.
Michael Hammerson noted that it was important to raise public awareness of the work of the team to ensure the public appreciated the importance of trees and the work that was required to maintain their place in public open spaces. The Chairman replied that reports such as the one under consideration were available online, and that the Tree Team would be the subject of his forthcoming column in the Ham&High. The Director added that the City of London had sponsored a conference in early 2013 on the management of tree disease in London and would be funding a small exhibit raising awareness of Oak Processionary Moth at the Chelsea Flower Show in May 2014.
In response to a request from Ian Harrison, the Conservation and Trees Manager agreed to define what constituted a ‘tree incident’ in a future report. Ian Harrison expressed his appreciation for the report overall and noted that should a tree be lost, a ‘like for like’ replacement should not be the default option – instead more thought should be put into what would benefit the landscape overall.