Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Tactless Chainsaw Massacre?

As the felling of Worcester Park's poplar trees continues along Malden Green, so the debate rages over whether Kingston Council is guilty of overkill (literally) in cutting down too many of them.

Hot on the heels of Coffee Man's earlier pictures of the felled pieces of badly rotted trunks, Jeff has sent me pictures of what look to the untrained eye (of which I have two) to be perfectly healthy, solid trunks:

Jeff writes: "The majority of stumps show solid healthy heartwood right through to the centre with no disease. I took photos of TEN healthy tree stumps - one of them even has fungii at the base, which according to the Council's tree expert indicated the tree should be hollow, but it's solid wood to the core (see the photo). This is why some of us wanted a second opinion from an independent qualified tree surgeon.

The decision to cut down trees should have be taken on a tree by tree basis with rotten trees removed and healthy ones protected. I mean, you don't axe all the trees in a park just because a number are diseased.

The Council's tree expert clearly adopted the attitude "While we're cutting some down we might as well (near enough) get rid of the lot". This is why they didn't want to discuss the matter and when they did agree a meeting didn't have the courtesy to turn up."

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Kingston Council's actions, it's hard to see this as anything other than a PR disaster for them, with a lack of consultation, lack of explanation to the residents and still no clear answer to whether anything will be replanted in their place. 

It looks like they underestimated just how attached Worcester Park was to its greenery. 

15 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

magicdragon said...

Once again a council makes decisions without giving local residents a voice. This was done with hardly any notice - if they had an idea they were diseased much earlier then surely with some planning they could have planted ones behind to take their place in good time. This would have lessened the impact on the environment and given more refuge to the wildlife and helped with any risk of future flooding. They were quick enough to cut them down - let's see how long it takes for them to be replaced!

Tree Hugger said...

Coffee man, would you care to revise your so confidently written comment of Monday?

"well done the Council."

coffee man said...

Tree Hugger,
No i do not wish to revise my comment "well done the council". They and thier contractors have dealt with the removal of these diseased/dying trees, efficiently ,quickly and without too much disruption.and possibly prevented injury/damage to passers by and to passing traffic in the near future. They have correctly identified the affected trees and dealt with the problem.They have specialist inhouse staff who would have discussed the situation and checked the trees with the contractor before work commenced.

But as i have said previously under another heading they could have dealt with the presentation of the information and consultation a lot better.

Like Jeff i am not an expert but the trunks of the two trees above do not look too healthy to me.and maybe there were further problems further up the trunks.

The only outstanding issues are the confirmation of the agreed funding, what type of trees will be the replacements(hopefully a type longer lived than the Poplar)and a date when planting will commence.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with Coffee Man, those stumps don't look particularly healthy. You have to remember with a fungus the fruiting body (mushroom) is only 10% of the total. The mycelium is around 90% and the dark areas indicates that it has started to eat away at most of the tree.

Yes it may have stood another 20 years, but it may have fallen and killed someone in 10.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the Council are now trying to make up the for the lack of consultation. The attached link to the Council website gives an explanation for the removal and an option to vote for the replacement species. I think I prefer Option 2, the Pin Oak- apparantly it goes a lovely scarlet colour in autumn.

Tree Fella said...

'It looks like they underestimated just how attached Worcester Park was to its greenery.'

Yes, the clue is in the name of our town.

Anonymous said...

im going for option 1, as they are bigger trees and also the bees love em

Jeff said...

If Coffee Man and Anonymous think that the solid hard wood of the two tree stumps shown above indicate they are diseased then they are no longer open to logical discussion.

They see only what they want to see. The suggestion that as some of the wood in one photo is darker indicates the fungii are eating away at most of the tree is pure fiction with a ring of desperation.

The tree in the other photo has white wood but that's still diseased according to Coffee Man. The trees just can't win can they!

The Council appears to have finished felling the Poplars, about 8 or 9 remain. I'm glad I took those photos as most of the stumps have been removed and the rest will no doubt follow shortly.

Anonymous said...

Both look good and I do hope that this replacement will actually happen, and soon. I want the option that provides a mature looking tree as soon as possible.

Does anyone know which of the two options are the fastest growing?

Lord Cynic of Lindsay said...

Why are we only given two choices for replacement. What we actually NEED is the like for like replacement of the Lombardies WITH Lombardies. I notice there are a number of these recently planted behind the main lines of the poplars, so the "Trees Officer" must have considered them "suitable" for the location, in his boundless wisdom.
I dread to think of the number of mature trees lost under RBK's 2010 slash and burn inspection of their parks and open spaces stock.
I'd have the Council's consultants up for the high jump.

Anonymous said...

Lord Cynic, have you not read previous posts/ threads or done some research?! The reason the Lombardies won't be replaced with like for like is that they are short lived and prone to disease. Although they are attractive they shouldn't have been planted in the first place for this reason. The last thing the Council wants to do is repeat this basic mistake so that this debate is repeated in 50 years time. Long term planning and all that.............

Anonymous said...

well said 'last anonymous'
to all those doubters please look at the link (29.10.10 12.20 from 'anonymous')on the Kingston Council web site.very interest it is to.also the Maldens & Coombe Neighbourhood Committee on 13/10/10 agreed to the replacement of trees (minutes ,item 39 resolution #2)
in fact i think it would have been far better to chop all the trees down and they will have to go back in 5 or so years time and go through the process again. what a waste of money and effort !!!!

Jeff said...

Now that the 23 Lombardy Poplar trees have been axed Kingston Council switches its policy from non-consultation and non-communication to one of falling over themselves to consult residents about the replacements.

There is of course no excuse for cutting down healthy trees, Anonymous. I have been advised that the normal procedure for checking which trees are healthy and which diseased is to make a small bore hole in the side of each that produces a sample which indicates whether the heartwood is diseased which, according to Kingston Council's own website, means the tree is hollow or the wood is turning to powder.

The two stumps above (and the other 8 healthy ones I photographed on Wednesday) don't fall into that category, the brown areas in one of them is due to normal colour variations in the wood and has no significance.

The spirited local initiative to stop the healthy trees being cut down has failed despite Councillor David Fraser raising a petition at short notice which he presented at a Council meeting, our attempt to meet with a council representative at an agreed time of 8am last Monday (he didn't even turn up) and the many phone calls and e-mails that WP bloggers and others have sent to Kingston Council.

I feel that we were undermined by a wilful campaign of misinformation by a couple of people that caused confusion and division.

For years to come, whenever they pass the treeless spaces on Malden Green they will know that this is their legacy to the environment of Worcester Park.

(Last post on the subject)

Lord Cynic of Lindsay said...

To the two "Anonimi" from Friday 29 October.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!
(Just had to let that out. Well, it is Halloween).

Paul said...

Anonymous above makes an extraordinary comment: "The last thing the Council wants to do is repeat this basic mistake so that this debate is repeated in 50 years time."

If the council could do something to resolve the debate for 50 years it would be a blinding solution.

Lombardy Poplars are short lived? I'm certainly not an arboreal expert, but short is clearly relative. Compared with the life of the great oak in Sherwood Forest, short is a good description. Compared with the remaining lifespan of most of the readers of this blog I'd say 50+ years is pretty good.

Make the mistake of buying an ageing listed building and the council will be all over you to replace like with like. I'm sorry sir, but this was built with wattle and daub and lime render. If you want to repair that gaping hole you must consult the only expert in this field in Northern Europe.

Why aren't the council subject to the same rules when removing something of huge local historical and enviromental significance?

Short lived? More like short term and short sighted.

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