Members of the Mature Trees Matter held a combined demonstration and celebration after people power saved a cherry tree in Ramsgate from being felled.
The tree outside Ellington infants had been earmarked for removal due to the roots making the tarmac uneven and being deemed a potential trip risk.
But parents, residents and the Mature Trees Matter group, along with Green Party councillor Trisha Austin and county councillor Karen Constantine, protested against the action and suggested alternatives such as circular seating around the tree.
A demonstration was arranged but Kent County Council then bowed to pressure and alternatives will now be looked at.
The demo went ahead last night (August 5) but became an event to celebrate diverting the tree’s fate.
Alan Chapman, from Mature Trees Matter, said: “The decision by Kent County Council to remove this mature tree due to the roots breaking up the tarmac rather than looking at an alternative to making the area safe resulted in a number of residents and councillors putting forward suggestions to enhance the area around it.
“I arrange a protest at the tree in support of residents and councillors. Prior to the protest KCC agreed to keep the tree and look at ways of improving the area and make it safe. It was decided to continue with the event as a “celebration” but also to make KCC and TDC look at the removal of mature trees as a last resort and not as the only option.
“We are all aware of the shortage of mature trees in Thanet and the impact on our environment and flooding so it is essential that both KCC and TDC adopt a policy of retaining trees rather than removing them. KCC states on the notice on the tree that it doesn’t have the money to replace trees! The answer is to preserve them not remove them. This is an excellent example of people power changing the minds of the council with local councillors’ support.”
Cllr Constantine said she hopes the county council can now adopt a plan for retaining trees and replanting.
She said: “I was really overwhelmed at the amount of public support to save the mature cherry tree outside Ellington school in St Lawrence. I’ve been contacted by many parents and residents. There was an enormous amount of passion and energy to save it. I was grateful when Cllr David Brazier, cabinet member for highways, confirmed by email yesterday that the tree would be saved.
“However, we really do need do much more to save our trees and to plant many, many more. The Climate Change Committee, an independent, statutory body. recommends that 1.5 billion trees need to be planted by 2050. That’s roughly 45,000 football pitches of trees that need to be planted every year. We need to double our efforts to meet this target and KCC certainly needs to take increased action to reach its 2030 carbon neutral target. Both by planting trees but also protecting existing ones.
“I’m now calling on KCC to allow Councillors to adopt a seven point plan.”
The plan points are:
- ‘Sense check’ every decision to fell a tree. Who will miss the tree? How will its absence impact the area? What will happen to the tree ecology? When and how will the tree by replaced?
- Where trees are in low numbers, in areas such as Thanet, implement a 3 for 1 replanting scheme and re plant the correct type of trees. Where possible plant the replacement trees first!
- Implement a community tree warden scheme. All trees and newly planted trees in particular need to be actively cared and monitored by the local community.
- Trees for people! There is a long tradition of placing benches in memory of loved ones – also plant trees, maybe with signage (digital or analog) to signify remembrances and to leave a lasting, positive legacy.
- Kent County Council’s latest campaign, Kent Green Action, aims to connect people with nature and inspire everyone to take action to protect and improve their local environment. The next step forward should be to include trees as part of the Kent Environmental Indicators.
- Get as many trees as possible covered by a TPO. Trees with a TPO are replaced within 2 years.
- Kent County Councillors members grant has been cut significantly in recent years. A new grant should be available via councillors specifically to be used to plant trees and hedge grows.