Hampstead's trees are under an increasing threat from a variety of factors, both environmental and man-made, and its leafy inheritance is no longer something we can take for granted.
Chopping down a tree at the first sign of decay keeps the Council's insurers happy. But that tree might live for another 250 years! New research about tree safety has led other London Boroughs to adopt a far more tree-friendly approach. And now, thanks to pressure from the Society. Camden has been brought into line and its felling policy curtailed, it gives more notice about its proposed street tree programme, and provides post-felling photographs and data for decayed trees.
But it's not only street trees that are threatened. Despite the fact that every tree in every garden in the Conservation area is protected, private trees are being lost too. If a tree is in the way of an extension or a rebuild – too bad. Consequently the society keeps a watchful eye over every application received by Camden that affects significant trees – wherever they are.
The ingredients that contribute to subsidence are:
Trees however only have a ‘walk-on’ part: they do not contribute to subsidence without the primary role of water acting on clay first. Since they will be part of the solution and give us great pleasure, taking them out is not only an immediate waste of money, it means much more needs to be spent later when the true cause is discovered.
Trees on private land
Street trees, of course, are only a percentage of those trees that make Hampstead distinctive; hence, it is no surprise that every tree with a trunk of more than 3 inches diameter in every garden in the conservation areas has some protection. What is surprising is how many of these trees continue to disappear despite their protected status.
Every week Camden publishes a list of planning applications relating to proposed work on or felling of trees on private land within the borough. Vicki Harding, as the Society's Tree Officer, reviews the weekly list and submits comments to Camden on behalf of the Society, particularly when an application affects especially significant trees. Members are encouraged to contact the Society or Vicki Harding at email@example.com if they have concerns about planning applications affecting trees in their neighbourhood.