Should I chain myself to a tree?

A little part of me grieves whenever someone chops down a tree and this very nearly happened today. This morning some workmen appeared on our street to chop down several beautiful old beech trees. We did not receive any warning of this other than a street sign which appeared about a week ago to say there’d be roadworks going on this week. But there was no mention of removing trees. I was considering chaining myself to one of the trees until thankfully, the arborists had to leave because there are birds nesting in them.  The trees have a temporary reprieve but I’m told they’ll be removed once the birds have finished nesting. Where will the birds nest next year?

Trees are wonderful things. A tree-lined street adds value to properties on the street, they suck carbon dioxide out of the air and big, old trees are better at doing this than young ones (see here and here), they provide habitat for wildlife, they reduce air pollution, they make us feel good, and they’re attractive to look at.

Apparently our trees are going because their roots have made the pavements bumpy. This seems like a frivolous reason given all the benefits. Ben thinks it’s because the council is worried someone will sue them if they trip over on the pavement.

Here’s the pavement:


Here are the trees:


Bumpy pavement or trees? It’s a no-brainer to me.

10 responses to “Should I chain myself to a tree?”

  1. I love the trees. I want mature trees everywhere. But sadly Ben is almost certainty right – the picture isn’t entirely clear how bumpy but if it is bumpy I’m not sure I see the council has much choice. if someone trips they will be liable for the injury. The point is more that beech trees are inappropriate for a street pavement as narrow as this – a cherry would be more to scale. Hate it but not sure i see how it can be different.

    • I agree with Victor here. There’s something wrong with how things operate in our society when 60-year-old copper beech trees are removed because of the threat of being sued.

      The entire street used to be lined with these trees up and down on both sides. They’ve totally ruined the street by removing them all. The only remaining ones are the five outside our house and two further down the other end. It used to be a beautiful tree-lined street. I only know this because I’ve seen a painting of it. The other trees were removed several years ago based on community consultation in 2008. They were meant to remove our trees as well but ran out of money. I was hoping this meant our trees had been spared permanently but it seems not. Now I’m arguing that a decision made in 2008 cannot still be valid because residents have come and gone in that time.

      • I agree entirely that the way the law has developed on negligence is absurd. You should be able to keep your trees and people need to be more careful. That said as a councillor who has a duty to minimize claims, removing a possible risk is one of those duties. They aren’t to blame for protecting the local purse or following the advice of insurers. Neither are the courts and lawyers, for once. The way governments have allowed the ambit of what is an accident and what is negligence to develop is the root of this. They the legislators have the power to limit claims.

  2. Why can’t they build a raised (but not too raised – only an inch or so) walkway over the top of the footpath? That way the roots can grow underneath, the trees can grow above & people can walk safely. As long as they remeber the extra height on the curb.

    • I think the roots would occupy that space too and then when they grow big lift up the stones again.

      If I remember right, there are some solutions, but they are more expensive and cities are poor because our governments rather fund wars and corporate welfare.

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