UKTC Archive

RE: Pollarding street trees

Subject: RE: Pollarding street trees
From: Eirion Lewis
Date: Dec 31 2002 08:43:01
I no longer work for wrexham county borough council

"uktc@xxxxxxxxx.co.uk" 12/31/02 08:39 >>>

Hi David - part of the value (and enjoyment for me anyway) of UKTC is
that
considered postings such as your own, are the antidote to prejudicial
thoughts - statements need to be clarified and sound arguments used to
justify points.

Key to this whole argument is the definition of amenity and I must take
issue with your statement:

<<I'm not so sure that amenity stands up to the definition of something
that
causes the least complaints.  I'm sure there are many complaints about
parking tickets, speeding fines, taxes, but is doesn't follow that the
general benefit that accrues from these outweighs costs to the
individual.>>

To quote the Oxford English Dictionary amenity is

"The quality of being pleasant or agreeable"

By definition something that causes a complaint is neither pleasant or
agreeable so has no amenity. To labour the point a tree that causes no
complaint must at the very least be agreeable and therefore posses
amenity.
Taxes etc is a neat red herring - of course they have absolutely nothing
to
do with amenity.

My statement is based on my own survey of residents (63% response rate)
not
published (although part of a research degree) and it involved a random
sample of people that live immediately outside a pollarded street tree.
87%
of respondents opinion of the tree was at least good (or pleasant or
agreeable if you prefer). These people live with the trees all year
round so
are best placed to see the changing seasons and changing shape of the
tree.
I am also about to start further surveys elsewhere to test the results -
I'll pass on the results as and when I get them.

Tree amenity is an Arboriculturists construct - we often talk of needing
references to back up our theories but where are those that, for
example,
guided Rodney Helliwell? We mustn't forget that the Helliwell system is
largely the same as when it was designed in 1967 a time when 'Trees
didn't
have standing' and Environmentalists were, well, rare and Town Planning
included Tower Blocks. The public weren't asked what they liked then and
haven't been since. It stands to reason that if you are into trees then
you
will take more notice and be more opinionated but does that make you
right?
Most of the discussion about amenity involves tree form, safety etc but
not
what pleases the public and amenity is a public good.

I thought the sycamore might cause interest - species is irrelevant
(other
than survivability) if you are going to pollard the tree - it's green
blob
don't forget. I've been collecting complaints for some while now and
Honeydew accounts for less than 1% of complaints. Shade on the other
hand
about 13% - not such a problem if your tree is regularly pollarded.

John


-----Original Message-----
From: uktc-bounce@xxxxxxxxx.co.uk [mailto:uktc-bounce@xxxxxxxxx.co.uk]On
Behalf Of David Evans
Sent: 30 December 2002 23:19
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: RE: Pollarding street trees


Hi John

You raise some interesting points.  Some of which I've quoted from the
VTA
Decay Mapping thread, for obvious reasons.  So here's a quick, in no
particular order, glass of Lagavulin to hand, ramble.

<<If you then consider that the public like pollarded trees (which they
do)
it appears to me that form is only important to professionals who
measure
amenity and not the general public who 'receive' amenity.>>

I wonder whether the reason that the public appear to like pollarded
trees
(what definition are we using here? - for pollard, I mean) is partially
self-fulfilling (Can you cite the reference for this one please - I know
you've probably brought it up before, but I've forgotten).  As many
street
and garden trees are subject to questionable and regular molestation to
contain their size, might this colour the public perception of what
constitutes good tree management, and therefore what represents a
desirable
tree?  That in effect, their arboricultural aesthetic and expectation
has
been conditioned by their environment?

I can still vividly remember the revelation - not unlike an escapee from
Plato's shadow-watching cave dwellers - when I began training as an
arboriculturist and consequently could suddenly see all this crap
treework;
which had always been there but I was previously blind to and blissfully
unaware of.  A very humbling experience because it's so, so conspicuous
and
obvious now, that it makes me wonder what else out there, which I
encounter
everyday, is also so wrong, but through my own ignorance I similarly
fail to
see.

<<I would also hazard a bet that the trees which have least complaints
are
pollarded street trees....Moreover, managing amenity trees is the
Arboriculturists remit and pollarded street trees are considered an
amenity
by the people that live with them everyday.>>

I'm not so sure that amenity stands up to the definition of something
that
causes the least complaints.  I'm sure there are many complaints about
parking tickets, speeding fines, taxes, but is doesn't follow that the
general benefit that accrues from these outweighs costs to the
individual.

<<On this point I now plant sycamore as a pollard tree - no-on really
cares
what it will look like as long as it's a lollipop shape and I have the
advantage of knowing that the thing will survive and therefore give
enjoyment for years to come.>>

Do the members of the public in your patch have a particular fondness
for
honeydew?  This approach strikes me as meeting the requirements of the
lowest common denominator, when there is so much more of interest that
could
be planted that might tempt some of them away from the shadows and into
the
light.

<<The final complication is that, generally, people also love other
people's
big trees.>>

This comment seems to lend itself to the conditioning paradigm.
Notwithstanding the underlying NIMBYism, I would be interested in the
'what
kind of tree the public prefer?' survey was determined during summer
alone.
Or were they also shown winter silhouettes, say contrasting the
amputated
architecture and bunched spiny new growth of a pollard against the
elegant
natural taper of a relatively unfettered tree.

I also wonder how many complaints about trees could be attributed to
poor
landscape design.


Cheers

Acer ventura





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