Borough turning grey as trees fall

Harrow Times: The number of trees in Harrow has been rapidly declining. The number of trees in Harrow has been rapidly declining.

HARROW is fast losing its title as a leafy borough after figures revealed it has lost almost three trees a day for the last five years.

According to the London Assembly, since 2002 5,000 trees have disappeared in Harrow and only about 1,750 have been replanted.

Darren Johnson, of the assembly's environment committee, said the statistics were a cause for concern and that an investigation had begun into the issue.

Mr Johnson said: "Street trees have been part of London's urban planning since Georgian and Victorian times.

"In addition to their obvious environmental benefits, trees bring life and beauty to the concrete jungle that we live in and it would be great shame if they were lost."

But Cllr Phillip O'Dell, Labour spokesman on the environment, Harrow Council, explained that the new Conservative administration had slashed the arbicultural services by two thirds at last week's budget meeting.

He said: "It has been cut down from £300,000 to £100,000 so that will result in less trees being worked upon."

The assembly's inquiry will examine why London is losing trees as well as which species are most suitable for the city's streets.

John Palmer, of local environmental group HA21, said: "We should be growing our own trees in our allotment space, that is the holistic way to solve this problem."

Mr Palmer also explained that the loss of trees could affect house prices and that once a whole street is affected, the aesthetics of the street are reduced.

He added: "Loss of trees means a loss of food sources for insects and birds so it is reducing our wildlife and species that are replanted should be native."

And Cllr Chris Mote, leader of Harrow Council, said: "I have trees at the end of my garden and I love them. They are an important part of our borough, but we have had to take some of them down because of the damage they are causing to pavements or houses.

"We want to put the right trees back, but we have a limited budget and we will put back as many as possible."

Dave Corby, senior manager public realm maintenance at Harrow Council said: "At the moment we've hit a demographic bubble. The majority of Harrow's trees were planted around 1935 and are now becoming over-mature due to the difficult urban conditions in which they live.

"This has become increasingly apparent by the amount of maintenance, fungal attacks and loss of trees we've experienced through natural causes."

Mr Corby explained that it costs the council £160 to plant a tree and that cost covers digging out, planting, staking and aftercare.

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