Thursday, August 16, 2007

Incompetent city council brings forward tree demise

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Bristol City Council deserves condemnation for allowing a situation to develop where approx 30 Poplar trees on the former Imperial Sports Ground in Knowle now have to be urgently removed for safety reasons.

Its no longer disputable that the trees are unsafe. Why are the trees now in a dangerous state?

The council has allowed developers to work in such a way inside the sports ground that they have significantly changed soil levels and conducted excavations that have damaged tree feeding roots. This, combined with a lack of good council maintenance and past heavy pruning has brought the demise of these trees forward by several years.

The report by independent contractors, Silvanus Services Ltd, today published on the city website clearly makes the expert observations this condemnation is based on, see the extracts below:

Redevelopment works in progress, with highly significant changes being made to soil levels in the rooting environment of all of these trees.
Excavations have damaged many of the feeding roots throughout the group, which were evident during our visit.
5 No. specimens had suffered complete stem failure at around 6 – 8m, with remnants of the failed stems in evidence within surrounding scrub.
A number of fungal brackets (probably Polyporus squamosus and Perenniporia fraxinea) were observed growing on several specimens. NB: Control or eradication measures are not available with such fungal colonisations.
With evidence of past (heavy) pruning works, these specimens exhibit many failed truncated major limbs and stems, with such dysfunctional tissue affecting major unions.
At approximately 90 years of age, these specimens must now be considered to be over-mature, with over extended major limbs that overhang both the sports field and the Wells Road. This, combined with the hazardous conditions noted

in the list above, presents an unacceptable level of risk.

This group of trees undoubtedly represent a major hazard and an unacceptable risk to both the users of the athletic field and the adjacent major trunk road(s) and pavements/public walkways.
As many of the hazards observed during our inspections have arisen as a direct result of past (heavy) pruning operations, it is inadvisable to continue with further (even heavier) pruning works as this would result in an increased level of major wounds (and resultant decay entry points) throughout the crowns of these specimens. Given the presence of the bracket fungi, the altered soil levels within the rooting environment and the extensive root damage, it is our recommendation that these trees be removed as soon as possible and replaced once the ground works have been completed.