There is an increasing amount of prominent and professional ‘Tree people’ following the Sheffield tree campaign and I would keenly advise everyone and anyone in the industry or on the periphery, in the UK or abroad, to do so also . The facebook page for Sheffield Tree Action Group (STAG) has become a fascinating forum with many recognisable names popping up.
Many including myself often discuss the need for those in the Arb’ and Forestry industries to be communicating more. But what is the point if we are subject to a deliberate campaign to ignore all the work done, all the guidance and indeed even the legal framework under which we work?
This is why the Sheffield tree situation is so important to those outside of Sheffield and even outside the UK. It is not so much the trees themselves, indeed a significant proportion of the trees in Sheffield clearly needed attention and some felling was / is inevitable, but the manner it has been handled – particularly recently following an apparent backtrack in order to fulfill consultation requirements, which had been ignored for far too long.
The few statements being made public read like a compiled list of ‘tree myths’ in the urban landscape. Including the fantastic, if it wasn’t so sad, excuse to fell because ‘that tree will become dangerous when it dies?!?’ However these few random statements (and credit must be given to the council staff who have actually joined in on facebook threads), hide a deeply worrying procedure, which may or may not be sinister (again not the point), where a tree panel has been set up, meeting at least once already but which neither the members or the minutes are disclosed.
We can live with trees in built environment and we must. Innovative engineering combined with the traditional has allowed us to successfully live with trees in the most concrete of landscapes to the benefit of us all – not least the industry who depend on this for its very future! To be sidelined solely to the rural landscape is to accept failure – when we should be at the very forefront of sustainable development.
Arboriculture and Forestry are industries which join many, if not all, industries in being dangerously usurped by a system where media are politically obsessed. To speak to those who actually know what they are talking about means that these people have to expose themselves to the trolls, which now worringly and disgracefully includes the politicians themselves.
What is happening in Sheffield is a disgrace. This is not regressive but a whole new vision of how we may have to work in the future. The only positive being that this allows a direct link between the industry and the communities themselves and it is refreshing that local people are hunting the web and further for as much information as possible in regards their trees.