Email Sent To Local Councils, February 28th – Part 2

Demand To Stop Tree Destruction – Supporting Documentation

Dear Sir or Madam:
The following is a compilation of articles, research and data to substantiate the points raised in the correspondence just sent.
Your full attention and review of this information, as well as a response addressing each of the points raised, would be greatly appreciated.
Tree Preservation Ireland
Save Ireland’s Trees

Main Points

The importance of trees in:
  • Purifying the air,
  • Reducing respiratory illness (4th highest in the world with 475,000 current asthmatics),
  • Reducing the current 1,500 deaths a year from air pollution,
  • Reducing stormwater runoff and flooding,
  • Reducing stress, violence and crime,
  • Reducing carbon levels and climate change,
  • Reducing future €500 million a year fines from the EU for failure to do this,
  • The high safety rating of trees compared to other things in life (far more people are injured in car accidents, sports accidents or getting out of bed than by a tree, 1,500 people die a year in Ireland from air pollution and lack of trees whereas less than 5 are killed by trees).
  • in Ireland from air pollution and lack of trees whereas less than 5 are killed by trees).

The Importance Of Trees For Human Health

Every time a local council cuts down trees, they are violating people’s constitutional right to a healthy environment and placing them at a higher risk of asthma and other health conditions.
Trees provide important health benefits and play a critically important role in community health.  They reduce asthma, other respiratory and health conditions as well as stress conditions.
Trees Help Prevent Asthma, Respiratory Diseases, Study Says
First National Study Finds Trees Saving Lives, Reducing Respiratory Problems
Trees Prevent 670,000 Cases Of Acute Respiratory Problems In The U.S. A Year
Tree-Lined Streets Mean Lower Rates Of Childhood Asthma
Ireland however has the second lowest number of trees in Europe:
Ireland correspondingly has the highest, second highest and third highest rates of respiratory illness, cardiac illness and cancer:
Ireland Has One Of The Highest Rates Of Respiratory Illness
The Second Highest Rate Of Cancer
Ireland Has The Third Highest Rate Of Heart Disease In The World
Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of asthma in the world
There was an average of 4,753 asthma admissions per year from 2005 – 2010.  A&E admissions are estimated at four times the admission rate, approx 19,000 per annum.
Air Pollution ‘Directly Linked To 1,500 Premature Deaths A Year’
In fact far more people die a year from air pollution and lack of trees that die by injury from a tree (1,500 deaths a year from lack of trees and less than 5 a year caused by trees).
Since trees are vitally important for air-purification and resident health, and since Ireland has the lowest number of trees in Europe with the fourth highest asthma rate in the world – isn’t important to PRESERVE the low number of trees that it has?  When you’re in short supply of something, you need to preserve it, not destroy it.  Saying a few trees here, a few trees there isn’t going to make much difference is untrue.  It will make a difference.  Everything has a ripple effect, contributing to the cumulative effect of the massive nationwide trend of tree destruction that has been embarked upon in recent years by almost every local council in the country, and other organisations including Irish Rail and Irish Waterways as well as landowners who unfortunately copy what they see councils doing.  Thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of trees continue to be cut down by various organizations when everyone should be doing their utmost to preserve this precious resource.
Every time a local council cuts down trees, they are placing people at a higher risk of asthma and other health conditions.  An additional consequence of this is that it increases the burden on the healthcare industry, on hospitals, insurance costs, etc.
More Trees On Your Street Means Fewer Health Problems, Says Study

Trees, Carbon Levels & Climate Change

Trees are critically important in reducing carbon levels and climate change. 
One Large Tree Can Absorb 150kg of Carbon Dioxide A Year.  Trees, according to the UN Urban Forestry office, reduce heating energy use by a further 20-50%. One large tree can absorb 150kg of carbon dioxide a year, as well as filter some of the airborne pollutants, including fine particulates.
Over the course of their lives, tree store up to 22 tons of carbon dioxide in their trunks, branches and root systems.
Trees are one of the world’s greatest natural resources. They’re called the lungs of the earth – turning carbon dioxide into oxygen.
  • Two mature trees can supply enough oxygen annually to support a family of four
  • One tree can absorb as much carbon in a year as a car produces driving 26,000 miles
Why Trees Are The Key To Combating Climate Change & What We Can Do To Protect Them
The problem is – instead of protectin them and reducing climate change, local councils are cutting them down at an increasing rate.  No only does this create havoc with Ireland’s already excessively high carbon levels, it places Ireland in further breach of EU carbon-reduction goals and at risk of fines in the region of several hundred million euros.
Ireland 2nd Worst In EU On Climate Change Action – June 18, 2018
Ireland is the second-worst performing EU member state in tackling climate change, both in terms of national action and support for greater ambition, according to Europe’s largest NGO coalition working on climate and energy issues.
The Climate Action Network (CAN) warns Ireland that it “faces annual non-compliance costs of around €500 million” which will ultimately be paid by the tax-payer.
Irelands Performance On Climate Change Is Now The Worst In Europe – Dec 10, 2018
COP24: Irish State ‘Sleepwalking’ Citizens Into Climate Catastrophe
Clodagh Daly gave the stark warning as she outlined the case brought by Friends of the Irish Environment (FiE) against the State.
Since Ireland has shown itself incapable of reducing emissions, the only other option available to reduce carbon levels is to PRESERVE it’s rapidly diminishing number of trees.  Cutting down trees not only eliminates their ability to absorb carbon, it also releases carbon stored in those trees back into the air – increasing carbon levels and climate change.  I would like each of you to keep this in mind – that every time you support the cutting down of trees, you are contributing to the increase of carbon levels, the increase of climate change and the increased risk of €500 million a year fines from the EU.
Is this what you want to do?  Sabotage the efforts of others to reduce carbon levels?
Breach Of Citizens’ Constitutional Right To A Healthy Environment
In addition to being a breach of EU carbon and climate change directives, the large-scale destruction of trees also contravenes the constitutional of the Irish people to a healthy environment.  In 2017, Friends of the Irish Environment won a groundbreaking case against the Irish Government, in which an Irish Court for the first time recognised a constitutional ‘right to an environment that is consistent with the human dignity and well-being of citizens at large’.  The ruling states that the Government “has clear, positive, and enforceable obligations to protect against the infringement of human rights by climate change.”
“A right to an environment that is consistent with the human dignity and well-being of citizens at large is an essential condition for the fulfillment of all human rights,” wrote High Court Justice Max Barrett in the decision on Nov. 21, 2017 opened the door to future suits using the right to a safe climate.
“The ruling has set a precedent which is likely to underpin future actions of this kind. It is the first such recognition of the rights of citizens to enjoy an environment which does not damage their well being.
Climate change: Ireland failing on ‘human rights obligations’, says UN
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment has called the Government’s failure to take more effective measures to address climate change “a breach of Ireland’s human rights obligations”.
By failing to preserve trees and instead, engaging in actions that contributing to climate change, the government, including local councils could be creating legal problems for themselves in the future.  A group of young Colombians have already successfully sued their government over failure to tackle climate change and I believe a similar case is currently underway in the U.S.  If local councils continue to cut down trees and increase climate change, then it just gives an added incentive for the people of Ireland to pursue similar legal action.

Two last important reasons to preserve trees:

Trees Reduce Stormwater Runoff, Flooding & Soil Erosion

Erosion control has always started with tree and grass planting projects.  Tree roots bind the soil and their leaves break the force of wind and rain on soil.  Trees fight soil erosion, conserve rainwater and reduce water runoff and sediment deposit after storms.
Tree canopies also intercept large amounts of rain, reducing the amount of runoff that is discharged into streams and rivers and extending the time that a watershed has to absorb rainfall.  This reduces flooding and erosion.
Several studies have been carried out that show that healthy trees reduce crime, that they reduce stress, mental illness and violence.  Communities with healthy trees have much lower rates of crime than ones that do not.
Properly placed and maintained trees have even been shown to reduce crime (Kuo et al.1998) and enhance cognitive development in children (Wells 2000).
Trees can lower stress and crime.  Research shows urban trees are correlated with lower crime rates, including things from graffiti, vandalism and littering to domestic violence.

The Safety & Low Risk Of Trees In Comparison To Other Things In Life

One last important point that needs to be included is how safe trees are compared to other things in everyday life.  Did you know that you are far more likely to be injured in a car accident, sports accident or getting out of bed than by a tree?  Yet, I don’t see any local councils going around removing cars, footballs and beds.  You are far more likely to be injured by a slip and fall at home, by cooking, getting out of the shower than by a tree.  Yet local councils aren’t going around removing going around removing stairs, stoves or showers. The following are storm damage figures compiled from a news article in regards to the effects of the January 2014 in one county.  The article provided a line by line item of things that had fallen or were flying around in a dangerous manner.  Please note that while there were situations of fallen trees, none of the following were caused by trees:
Fallen roof slates in over 15 locations with over 300 fallen slates in one public location, fallen roof tiles in at least 3 different locations, several shattered panes of glass, 5 downed power lines with no trees involved, 2 downed wires with no trees involved, 4 downed ESB lines with no trees involved, 2 downed sign posts, one downed traffic light, 1 downed cable with no tree involved, at least 5 situations with an entire roof flying around the place, an entire shed knocked down and blown onto the road, two situations of sheets of fallen sheets of metal flying around, one fallen scaffolding, a section of a church wall fallen down, a fallen gate blowing around, flying bins and two flying trampolines.
The data clearly illustrates that trees aren’t the only thing to be knocked down during storms.  Falling roof slates, shattered glass, fallen wires and poles that come down on their own without any tree involvement are just as big a risk as trees, if not more.  However you don’t see local councils going around removing slates, roofs, tiles, gates, signposts and traffic lights.  So why are trees singled out?  Why are tree scapegoated?  This entire backlash against trees is nothing but an unsubstantiated, irrational panic reaction to negative news hype that sensationalises the exception and fails to report in a balanced, unprejudiced manner.  This has got to stop.  Your risk of being hit by a tree is one in 20 million.  A once a week lottery player is 75 times more likely to win the lottery jackpot than be killed by a tree in a public space.  You are 2,000 times more likely to die from some other type of accident than by being hit by a falling tree.  In which case I ask you to step back, take an objective look at the facts and adjust your actions accordingly.

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