Take the Pledge for Sheffield’s Trees

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Lovely parkland in Gleadless Valley threatened by bus-lane proposals – to get you into town one minute faster!

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Woodland at Heeley City Farm also threatened by the same proposals

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The tree-lined avenue at Sheffield’s Meersbrook Park Road – delivering huge value-for-money and massive ecosystem services. Climate-proofing in action!

Take the Pledge for Sheffield’s Trees – plus take action, make yourself heard, and join the network! Come along to St Mary’s Centre, Friday pm, or Saturday all day.

Actions for Woods

AfWT Day Tree Pledge Sheet

Action for Woods – 1page flyer

If you can’t make it, then take the pledge and join up anyway.

 

Ian

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20 Responses to Take the Pledge for Sheffield’s Trees

  1. Technotronic says:

    Just for the benefit of everyone that doesn’t already know, there is already a well established method for citizens to make a positive contribution and bring about change. It involves the establishment of local Tree Warden Groups. In the UK, this is usually done through the Tree Council (“the UK’s lead charity for trees”). However, in theory, a Tree Warden does not have to be affiliated to any organisation, nor set up or belong to a group.

    http://www.treecouncil.org.uk/Take-Part/Tree-Wardens

    Sheffield must be the only large city in the UK without a single tree warden in any area of the city!

    Why not become a voluntary Tree Warden? As such, you may help in the following ways (& possibly others too, depending on how cooperative the local authority is):

    identify trees worthy of protection;
    identify hazards, pests and diseases;
    help with plant selection, planting and establishment;
    protect and care for trees in your local neighbourhood by helping the local authority to monitor tree works, so as to ensure compliance with policies and best practice guidance and recommendations (including British Standards 8545 (2014), 5837 (2012) & 3998 (2010)).

    Here is a little introduction from the The Ancient Tree Hunt website:

    “The Tree Warden Scheme is a national initiative to enable people to play an active role in conserving and enhancing their local trees and woods. The scheme was founded by the Tree Council in September 1990.”

    “Tree Wardens are volunteers, appointed by parish councils and community organisations, who gather information about their local trees, get involved in local tree matters and encourage local practical projects – such as the Ancient Tree Hunt.”

    “The Tree Council has worked with Local Authorities to set up Tree Warden Networks throughout the UK. There are currently over 7,000 Tree Wardens.”

    The Tree Council doesn’t have any group or contact set up for Sheffield, though the Tree Warden Coordinator for South Yorkshire (based in Sheffield), was at some point:

    Contact: Fran Hill
    Telephone: 0114 273 5030
    Email: fran.hill@sheffield.gov.uk

    Fran is Countryside Manager in the Planning Division of the Directorate of Planning at the Town Hall (I’m not sure whether or not that is still the case). Fran is currently listed as one of the contacts for the Sheffield Landscape Trust, but doesn’t seem to respond to enquiries.

    The “Sheffield Landscape Trust is a partnership between Sheffield City Council Countryside Planning, Sheffield Countryside Conservation Trust, North Sheffield Conservation Group, Steel Valley Project and Shire Brook Valley Conservation Group (see separate entries). They work with local communities and schools to improve the environment for people and wildlife.
    They develop new footpaths, cycle routes and green wildlife corridor links between communities and the wider countryside.”

    “The trust provides volunteering opportunities at Wood Lane Countryside Centre (see separate entry) and carries out environmental education, arts activities and skills training for volunteers. ”

    Address:
    Wood Lane Countryside Centre,
    Wood Lane,
    Sheffield,
    S6 5HE.

    Details:
    Disabled Access Details: Wheelchair Accessible; Wheelchair Accessible Toilet; Further Access Details: Lift to 1st floor rooms Days and Times: Monday-Friday 8am-6pm

    Source:
    http://www.sheffieldhelpyourself.org.uk/full_search_new.asp?group=23649

    I’m sure that there use to be a Tree Warden “tool kit” available via the Tree Council’s website for all to access without registering. Things appear to have changed. However, it is easy to find information online. The freely available publications on the Tree Council’s website are a bit naff anyway. Although you can pay for their better stuff, and support their mission in doing so, there is a wealth of freely available high quality educational material elsewhere online. Links to such resources are provided on the Stocksbridge Community Forum.

    https://www.stocksbridgecommunity.org/news/contribute-website?page=1

    • Technotronic says:

      In my previous post, the section that reads “The Tree Council doesn’t have any group or contact set up for Sheffield, though the Tree Warden Coordinator for South Yorkshire (based in Sheffield), was at some point:” has been edited by Ian (I missed that). The original wording was as follows:

      “The Tree Council provide the following contact details for the Tree Warden Coordinator for South Yorkshire (based in Sheffield):”

      This time last year, Fran was still listed by the Tree Council as Tree Warden Coordinator for South Yorkshire. 😉 However, I am not aware that there was ever any attempt by Fran to encourage the formation of tree warden groups in Sheffield.

      • Technotronic says:

        Actually, looking back through my personal record of communications, I note that I last contacted Fran on 16/3/2015, when Fran was still listed by the Tree Council as Tree Warden Coordinator for South Yorkshire. Obviously, the Tree Council had either forgotten to de-list Fran, or Fran’s departure is very recent indeed. 😉

      • Maybe Fran is still involved – they certainly didn’t suggest her as a contact and she has not ‘volunteered’ to get involved at all.

        Ian

  2. At the event this weekend, it is proposed to set up a community network and to explore the establishment of community champions for trees and woods or ‘Tree Wardens’. There will be a talk on an established Tree Wardens’ Group in West Yorkshire. The network and pledge will relate to these ideas. Presently, Sheffield has no such group and now is the time to set it up – before it is too late!

    Come along and take part – get involved.

    Ian

  3. Technotronic says:

    Initial thoughts on today’s presentations…

    I think it would have been of great value to mention, explicitly, exactly what the range of ecosystem goods and services are that trees provide, and the ways in which citizens can be involved with valuation, rather than assume that all those present were familiar with them. After all, people need to communicate these benefits to others if people are to be persuaded that trees are worth bothering about. It would have been nice if visitors could have had a leaflet/poster to take away that detailed these things, but I do realise that would be yet another cost. In any case, there are links to such materials (free) on the Stocksbridge Community forum – search for key words such as “ecosystem” and “valuation”. The TDAG publications are worth a look too.

    I think that the benefits of having an adopted tree strategy should have been stated and the ways in which the public could be involved with helping the local authority should also have been stated.
    I don’t believe that Amey’s “Area Stewards” will do much more than listen and state their intent. Certainly, with regard to influencing decisions that affect trees on development sites and street trees, I think my previous suggestions are likely to be more effective than talking to an Area Steward (note that Amey couldn’t even be bothered to send a representative to the event).

    I’m glad Ian pointed out that sticking trees in the same roadside verges without appropriate preparation of the rooting environment (and protection of underground services) is likely to result in a similar range of problems in the future. The TDAG publications clarify how to best avoid such problems. Again, it means spending more money, but if Amey’s contract has been properly draughted it will include terms that specify appropriate ground preparation for the growth of trees to their maximum dimensions, and for the long-term retention of trees that have achieved their maximum dimensions.

    It was mentioned – several times – that the public are unwilling to pay more tax to ensure that provision for and management of trees is adequate. No research was referenced to support that opinion. In my experience, the public believe that they already pay sufficient tax to ensure adequate provision for and maintenance of trees; they also believe that the local authority squander their resources by failing to adequately plan ahead and prioritise in an appropriate manner (the absence of an adopted tree strategy appears to support such an opinion). Something that appears glaringly obvious to me is that, with regard to the management of street trees, Amey have been awarded a contract – they don’t have to worry about whether or not the money will be there next year, as it certainly will be there! In short, they have what they need to do their work in a competent manner, in accordance with current best practice guidance and recommendations.

  4. Maybe another event to cover the above!! All important matters.

    But hopefully, many issues will be covered in tomorrow’s lectures.

    Ian

  5. Formal lectures end at lunchtime with open mic and presentations / discussion with the audience in the afternoon.

    Ian

  6. Technotronic says:

    Thoughts following yesterday’s afternoon session…

    I was not impressed with Professor Alan Simson’s idea that vegetation should be established prior to the building of new towns, so that when people move in there is something for them to look at and admire. While sound in theory, and practicable in other countries, the success of any such approach in the UK is most unlikely, in my opinion. For such an approach to be successful, there would need to be constant on site supervision for the duration of works, by competent people with relevant education, training, knowledge and experience, and effective communication at all levels. There would also need to be adequate enforcement of planning conditions (this is of particular importance). In practice these things rarely (virtually never) happen as they should and, in reality, damage to the physical and chemical properties of the soil, affecting soil hydrology, ecology and nutrient availability, amongst other things, as well as physical damage directly to vegetation, would lead to immanent or eventual decline and/or death of a significant proportion of any established vegetation. …The professor’s comments serve to highlight the gulf in understanding of real world practicalities that exists between academics and practitioners. Of course, there is nothing wrong with aspiring toward better things, but success hinges on embracing the reality of the circumstances you are most likely to encounter, in my opinion. 😉

    Also, I was unimpressed by the statement of intent by the head of SCC’s Parks, Woodlands & Countryside department to site a campsite for tourists in Council owned woodland. To mind, that would have a negative impact on soil structure and ecology, the herbaceous layer and canopy cover, and it is unnecessary, given that the Council own so much farmland (most of it “improved”! I’m sure that tenant farmers would welcome the opportunity to diversify, and the extra income a campsite would bring.

    • Responses welcomed. Did you get chance to ask either about these issues? The scale of urban spread is pretty frightening and I guess Alan is looking at how to minimise impacts.

      I am not sure that this degree of expansion can be accommodated without serious detriment – but that is just my view as an ecologist – I can’t see how the ecosystem copes.

      Yes the idea about farms providing the camping areas is good – worth passing to SCC.

      Ian

      • Technotronic says:

        There was plenty of opportunity to ask questions, and for people to have their say, which I thought was good. That may not have been possible if the event had been more popular.

        Everyone has to live somewhere. I used to think that the reason the Government insisted on taking a census was so that change and progress could be planned and happen in a sustainable manner, so as to minimise negative impacts. However, as I get older, the more I realise that they just don’t bother, as it means making some tough decisions that will attract negative publicity. Perhaps those that govern need to grow a spine? It is just as well the UK doesn’t have to rely on its own resources to sustain the population.

        COMMENT FROM Ian:

        My worry too, is when food security and global food shortages really begin to kick in!!

        Ian

    • Technotronic says:

      I’ve just remembered another point that one of the male guest speakers raised: sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)! The man claimed that every specimen was worthy of retention and deserved every piece of land it occupied, implying that every specimen was on a par with any other tree that a person would wish to retain. In my opinion, that opinion is at an extreme on the range of opinion scale and as such is clearly wrong. I was very surprised that the opinion was not challenged by any of the people present, given that posters outside the venue advertised that the event was sponsored, at least in part, by the South Yorkshire Biodiversity Research Group. Anyone that has stepped in to a woodland dominated by sycamore, or in to a woodland in which sycamore is becoming the dominant tree species will have noticed the increased shading at ground level and subsequent decline in biodiversity of ground flora, and a decline in the “natural regeneration” of other tree species. As usual, a weed is any plant growing where you don’t want it. 😉 …That can and does include sycamore. Any decision on whether or not such a tree is worthy of retention should be based on consideration of the circumstances, on a case by case basis. This species is now occupying so much land that there should, perhaps, be greater regulation of species abundance distribution, in the interest of maintenance and enhancement of biodiversity. 😉 The wood carves beautifully, and luthiers inform me that there is absolutely no reason why they could not put it to use.

      http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Acer+pseudoplatanus

  7. Technotronic says:

    BTW, I think the event would have had a greater citizen turn out if it had not coincided with two other major community events (on Saturday) in Sheffield town centre: the march against austerity and cuts (with the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett) and the “One Sheffield Many Cultures Festival”. The latter started at noon, commenced by the Lord Mayor, and involved nine high schools, so I’m told. Perhaps it would have been better to have the Action for Woods & Trees event over a weekend and when other major events were not scheduled (and not include a Friday). However, I’m not sure that the venue could have accommodated many more people inside.

    • Yes – an unfortunate clash. The event was, in theory at least, co-organised with The Green Party as a follow-up to the hugely successful evening event about 18 months ago. Nobody mentioned the other events when we set the dates – which was about 6-9 months ago.

      I wonder if being in the Environment Weeks period is a disadvantage too because there are so many competing events???

      Ian

  8. Technotronic says:

    I’ve just remembered something else that I felt should have been challenged by the other academics present at the event on Saturday. The guest speaker from Chicago couldn’t speak highly enough of poplar trees (Populus sp.) – he was very enthusiastic about them and I got the impression that he couldn’t see why we didn’t plant more of them. Again, I was surprised at the minimal response to his comments.

    The man from Chicago knew poplar trees as cottonwood trees – the name that Americans give to trees of the genus Populus, presumably because the hairs of the seeds that carry on the wind look a little like cotton? Interestingly, on a visit to a park in the UK with a relative of mine, from the USA, my relative recognised the “cotton” on the ground and deduced that cottonwood trees were nearby. Oddly enough, he couldn’t recognise the trees themselves, even though he was walking right by them.

    The guest speaker mentioned black poplar (Populus nigra ssp. Betulifolia)*. One learned arboriculturist once told me that this was our largest native timber tree (I think that must have been a reference to its overall dimensions, as it does produce limbs of substantial thickness, which would have been used for timber at one time). These trees grow very large indeed and, unless you have land the size of a small field, you would do well to avoid having one (I’ve never seen them for sale, so it would be a case of growing your own if you really wanted one). There are some nice poplars, and aspen (P.tremuloides) is my favorite, with Chinese necklace poplar (P. lasiocarpa) a close second. However, virtually all poplars are known to produce vigorous root and shoot growth, throw up suckers for some distance from the main stem and be relatively short lived (in comparison to trees of other genera). They are also prone to extensive and rapid internal decay once they have attained a good size. However, this is likely to be the result of multiple factors, not least of all poor rooting environment and alteration and/or damage to the roots and/or rooting environment. Poplars are also likely to drop twigs and branches once they have reached their full size, or are managed on a pruning cycle; it is not unusual for very long, heavy branches to snap out in strong winds. Poplars are not trees that you should be planting anywhere near buildings, underground services, or within areas of high occupancy, unless the specification for components within the environment is of sufficient standard to accommodate such trees and an adequate tree management plan exists.

    Furthermore, poplars are prone to a range of diseases that significantly affect their amenity value in a negative manner, including crown gall†, which occurs as the result of natural, localised genetic modification by an indigenous bacterium (it is one of the primary agents used to produce genetically modify plants, which is why biotech scientists claim GM is a natural phenomenon and they are just using nature to improve productivity).

    By the way, there is an impressive Lombardy poplar (P.nigra ‘Italica’) at the top of Langsett Avenue, (the steep, long road opposite Middlewood tram terminus: the road that heads up toward Wadsley Common – where the last man to be gibbeted in Sheffield was left for the birds). No doubt Amey will be felling it soon, as it obscures sightlines at the junction with Worrall Rd. Currently, the tree is about 27m tall, with a Dbh (diameter at breast height, measured in at 1.5 m above ground level on the upslope side of the tree) of 105.7cm. To date, it hasn’t dropped a branch! If anyone wants to see the tree remain, the time to start preparing your arguments for its retention is NOW! At present there are interesting spiral galls on the petioles (leaf stalks), caused by the aphid Pemphigus protospirae; there are also some other interesting little creatures.

    †Kado, C. I. (2014). Historical account on gaining insights on the mechanism of crown gall tumorigenesis induced by Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Plant-Microbe Interaction, 5, 340.
    http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fmicb.2014.00340/full

    †McCullen, C. A., & Binns, A. N. (2006). Agrobacterium tumefaciens and plant cell interactions and activities required for interkingdom macromolecular transfer. Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol, 22, 101-27.
    http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar?cluster=16247711891341629456&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5

    †Valentine, L. (2003). Agrobacterium tumefaciens and the plant: the David and Goliath of modern genetics. Plant Physiology, 133(3), 948-955.
    http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/133/3/948.full.pdf+html

    *White, J. (1993). Black Poplar: the Most Endangered Native Timber Tree in Britain. Research Information Note 239, Forestry Commission.
    http://forestry.gov.uk/pdf/RIN239.pdf/$file/RIN239.pdf

  9. Technotronic says:

    After viewing the paper listed below, I have reached the conclusion that the spiral gall I mentioned above is actually caused by Pemphigus spyrothecae, not P.protospirae. 😉

    Osiadacz, B., & Hałaj, R. (2014). First records of gall-inducing aphid Pemphigus populi (Hemiptera: Aphidoidea, Eriosomatidae) in Poland with gall-based key to Central and North European species of the genus. Entomologica Fennica, 25(1), 16-26.
    .

    By the way, you can view the Wadsley poplar by visiting Google Maps and selecting the Street View option.

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