The independent London newspaper

Why trees matter so much

22 May, 2020

Good reasons for saving these mature trees at Dixon Clark Court. Photo: Alex Hofford

• WHY do we humans need trees? Let us count the ways:

Health: the current lockdown has proved the value of open spaces, greenery and trees to our physical and mental wellbeing.

Studies have shown that when tree cover is reduced asthma rates and respiratory problems often increase. And, as we know, Covid is a respiratory disease.

Air purification: trees remove air pollutants from the atmosphere by capturing pollutants and absorbing them through their leaves, branches and stems.

Noise mitigation: trees can mitigate urban noise through the scattering and absorption of sound waves by their leaves, branches and trunks.

Rain water regulation: urban trees and woodlands regulate rainwater and stormwater by intercepting and storing rainfall on their leaves.

Carbon sequestration and storage: trees act as a sink for carbon dioxide by fixing carbon and storing excess above and below ground.

Increasing the number of trees can therefore slow the accumulation of carbon, a contributor to climate change.

Something else we know, Islington has declared a climate emergency and so should be treasuring, planting and protecting all our trees.

The council has recorded nearly 40,000 trees in Islington on private, residential and council property. We are a lucky borough as the tree canopy is currently measured at 25 per cent, above London’s average of 21 per cent.

However, less than one per cent of our trees are protected by a TPO, tree protection order.

That’s just under 400 and figures apparently are not available for the number of trees on council land which are protected thus giving the council a free hand to do what it wants.

Why is the council hell-bent on cutting down seven healthy, mature, trees at Dixon Clark Court to make way for a private block of flats, the council themselves are developing, in order to finance social housing?

Can no alternative suitable space be found other than next to a primary school, a large block of flats and a busy road junction?

Why is the choice for the council either social housing or trees? Is it impossible to find an innovative solution?

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