An assessment of the Streets Ahead ESAs

In June and July last year I looked into the legal and regulatory grey area in which the Streets Ahead programme operates.  The next logical step after looking into the regulatory context is to review the early stages of the programme, starting with the assessments. This might seem late in the day or an oblique line of reasoning, but the environmental assessment process is fundamental to the later stages of a project: it sets the tone for the project, identifying the type and extent of works required and frames the standards of work that are expected. Whilst it is tragic that so many healthy, beautiful and useful street trees can be felled legally, the process within which Streets Ahead is being carried out is so obscure that careful analysis of the original documents and practices is essential to finding out how it was decided to fell so many trees.

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Sheffield’s urban forest

The plight of Sheffield’s trees is well known: you’ve probably seen articles in the news with Sheffield residents and  famous faces up in arms over the dramatic changes to the city’s streets. But alongside the anger and passion there is a question: how can such a seemingly dramatic programme of felling be allowed to be carried out in an era of unprecedented red tape and environmental protection?

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When is a tree a trees?

We all know what a tree is, don’t we? But when does a tree stop being ‘a’ tree and start being something bigger, more complicated and perhaps even plural? Francis Hallé has approached the question from a morphological perspective by showing that through reiteration, trees can actually be forests, with branches functioning as individual trees or trees-in-waiting, and I was fascinated to read this paper which touches on this same question from a different perspective, showing that up to 40% of the carbon in a tree’s fine roots might actually have been produced by another tree.

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