Urgent Demand To All Local Councils To Stop The Nationwide Destruction Of Trees
Dear Sir or Madam:
This is an urgent demand to all local councils to stop the destruction of trees. I am writing in regards to a deep concern over increasing, rampant tree-felling and harmful tree-cutting practices that have been taking place in almost every county nationwide. As founder of Tree Preservation Ireland and the Save Ireland’s Trees initiative, I am receiving reports on a daily basis of massive tree destruction across the length and breadth of the country. Further detail provided below.
I am also writing to let you know that the nationwide ban on all forms of hedgerow and tree cutting goes into effect tomorrow March 1st and remains in effect until August 31st.
To protect nesting birds and their young, no tree-cutting of any kind, whether limb and branch amputation or complete felling is allowed during this time with the exception of immediate hazards, commercial forestry and trees on land approved for lawful building or construction works. All other vegetation, which includes trees and hedgerows on land not tilled for agricultural use is subject to this ban. While immediate hazards are exempt from the ban, the perceived hazard should be documented and strongly visible in photographs and substantiated in a written tree health assessment by an arborist with a minimum of ISA and/or ARB certification, with more advanced certification preferred. Unsubstantiated utterances of “health and safety” are not acceptable. Both photographs and a written assessment are needed to validate the issue. Information on selecting an arborist with the right qualifications is available at:
On behalf of the members of the above organisations, Tree Preservation Ireland and Save Ireland’s Trees, I am therefore requesting that your office refrain from all manner of tree-cutting and interference with bird and wildlife habitat at the very least until nesting season ends on September 1st.
In regards to notifications we have received of extensive tree damage nationwide, the destruction includes both tree felling as well as excessive, harmful removal of tree limbs and foliage under the banner of “pruning” when it isn’t pruning at all. Instead, the practices carried out are in violation of national and international tree care guidelines as stated in the nationally-approved tree care manual BS 3998:2010, the Dublin Tree Strategy 2016-2020 and Tree Preservation Ireland:
The type of practices inflicted by local councils on trees includes topping, stub-cutting, hat-racking, excessive crown-lifting and a dubious practice called “wind-sail reduction”.
The reason these practices are banned by arboricultural organisations worldwide is the harmful effects they have on trees including a weakening of tree structure, weak epicormic growth and root die-off turning stable trees into hazards at a much higher risk of falling over in a storm. The practices carried out are nothing short of environmental vandalism.
The destruction also includes large-scale tree felling along rural roads, rivers, urban streets and in woodlands without prior consultation with the community and even worse, against the expressed wishes of the community. No one is objecting to the removal of trees or branches and limbs that are proven to be a hazard through photographic documentation and a written assessment by a certified arboriculturist who adheres to BS3998:2010 and established tree care guidelines. What people are objecting to is the increasingly rampant and widescale destruction of trees without prior consultation with the community and without any evidence whatsoever to validate the actions carried out.
Not only does this destroy the scenic beauty of these areas, it also destroys or at the very least reduces severely the following proven benefits provided by trees: air purification, improved health both physical and mental, absorption of stormwater, reduced flooding, reduced carbon levels and climate change, reduction in stress and crime, improved attention levels in school children, economic and tourist benefits as well as a habitat for birds, pollinators and wildlife. When local councils and other organisations destroy trees or subject them to incorrect, excessive pruning practices, they are effectively causing the following:
Increased air pollution.
Increased asthma and respiratory conditions.
Increase in other health condition include cardiac, cancer and stress.
Increased burden on hospital A&E’s.
Increased costs to the healthcare system.
Lower employee work productivity, higher ADHD in children.
Increased carbon levels, increased climate change
Failure to meet EU carbon-reduction goals.
Large pending fines by the EU (€500 million per year).
Less money for public services, more austerity.
Increase in stormwater and flooding.
Higher stress levels, higher rates of violence and crime.
Loss of tourists and business investment
Loss of habitat for birds, pollinators, insects and biodiversity
Does the individual in your office responsible for this realise that every time they order trees to be destroyed or subjected to harmful, excessive and incorrect pruning practices that they are inflicting the above conditions on the community and on residents?
1,500 people die a year in Ireland from air pollution, one major contributory factor being the low number of trees (lowest in Europe). Every time a local council cuts down trees or subjects them to unnecessary and excessive limb amputation which destroys vitally-needed air-purifying foliage, they are placing residents at a higher risk of asthma and other respiratory conditions.
I would like you to pause for a moment and reflect up on the seriousness of this.
Local councils are required to be stewards of the environment. Trees are entrusted to local authorities for care and preservation, not to be destroyed in the manner evidenced by the following photos and accounts of tree destruction sent to us by the public. While not all the photos are of damage carried out by local councils, the vast majority are. A few sample articles on the issue are provided further below.
Only a small fraction of the photos received are posted here. There are hundreds more in the process of being compiled to use as evidence of the destruction carried out and what basically amounts to a violation of the constitutional right of citizens to a healthy environment, a right which was recognised in a High Court ruling by High Court Justice, Max Barrett on November 21st, 2017. The ruling states that the Government “has clear, positive, and enforceable obligations to protect against the infringement of human rights by climate change.” Since there is a well-established correlation between trees, carbon levels and climate change, destruction of urban and rural trees, on an island that has the lowest number of trees in Europe, is a clear and outright violation of the right of citizens to a healthy environment with a healthy, mature tree canopy.
I am therefore requesting that your office refrain from all manner of tree-cutting and hedgerow-cutting and interference with bird and wildlife habitat, at the very least until nesting season ends on September 1st.
Local council staff do not live in walled fortresses. What affects the environment and affects us – affects you as well. Your failure to notice this does not exempt you from the result. As residents in a shared environment, you have as much of a vested interest for yourselves, your families and the next generation as we all do in ensuring the health of trees, birds and the environment. If you destroy it for us, you destroy it for yourselves.
I am forwarding, under separate cover, a list of articles, data and research in relation to the above illustrating why this issue is of the most urgent, critical importance. Copies of both correspondence is being sent to Birdwatch Ireland, Irish Wildlife Trust and other environmental organisations. Due to the urgency of the situation, a prompt response is requested with a tracking number. If you would kindly respond to confirm receipt of this correspondence and your agreement to comply with the above request, I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you. I look forward to your response.