It may be that you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about trees or what makes a great tree. It can be all too easy to pass trees by without a second thought, particularly if you have seen the same trees for years. However, there has been an ongoing row in Sheffield over tree felling and this has caused an upsurge in the volume of people who are talking about trees and action is being taken to capitalise on this debate and discussion. This is the backdrop for the Great Trees of Sheffield 2017 event that aims to find the best trees in the city.
Members of the public have been able to nominate their favourite trees in the city and the winners were decided by a team of judges with the event hosted at Sheffield Hallam University. This could be the sort of quirky event that gets publicity and then fades away quite quickly but it does look as though there has been a good level of interest in the competition. With celebrities like Jarvis Cocker and Chris Packham supposedly nominating trees, the event which has been organised by “tree hunter” Rob McBride appears to have been well received. It should be notes that the term “tree hunter” is one that McBride has given himself and you do wonder what his daily activities are if he feels that tree hunter is a term that describes him sufficiently!
Celebrity endorsements have increased awareness of this situation
The issue started when the Streets Ahead Initiative led by Sheffield City Council recommended that thousands of trees in the city should be felled. The aim of the project is to provide the city with a better standard of roads, street lighting, pavements and bridges; with a lot of work being lined up over a 25 year period. However, this would have seen a number of trees chopped down and as you would expect, this saw a number of people up in arms. It has never been easier to stage a protest and gather people around a cause, and there has been strong opposition to this work. There has even been a number of arrests due to protestors preventing contractors from going about their daily work.
The city council has said that for every tree that is removed during this process, there will be a replacement tree put in place. Sheffield City Council say they are committed to replacing trees on a “one for one” basis and that they believe more than 600 trees will be planted during this period. This is a good commitment but of course, if people have grown attached to trees or consider a tree to be part of their local community, it is likely that will be unhappy with anything that the council proposes to do in this field.
If this event helps to make people more aware of trees and their importance in a local community, all the better.