Cambridge City Council manage Byron’s Pool local nature reserve which is on the River Cam upstream of Grantchester, near the A14. A tiny “article” in the Winter edition of Cambridge Matters magazine with the headline of “Native tree-planting” states:
73 non-native trees are being removed from Byron’s Pool Local Nature Reserve. Removing the Sycamores and Horse Chestnuts which obstruct navigation of the River Cam and cause severe shading of the river will benefit wildlife such as Chubb, a fish which breeds in the river. Ellis Selway, Nature Conservation Officer, said “All of the trees felled will be replaced with more favourable tree species such as the Black Poplar (Populus nigra betulifolia) which is Britain’s rarest native tree.”
It appears that the plan is to remove substantial tall trees to make way for smaller new trees. Seventy-three trees appears to me to be a huge number, especially considering the size of the Byron’s Pool Nature Reserve. The justification for removing the trees – saying they obstruct the navigation of the river is nonsense. It is the weir in the river at Byron’s pool which obstructs the navigation, not any trees! The implication that Horse Chestnuts and Sycamores are not native trees is also, while technically accurate, not something I can see washing with many people. Horse Chestnuts have been in the country since the fifteen hundreds and if Sycamores are native or not is disputed, they have certainly become adapted to our climate. I think at the very least these trees can now be considered “naturalised” and we ought to cherish and protect them.
Why do Cambridge City Council’s plans always start with cutting down trees? Introducing some new rare native trees to the city is something I support, but I can’t see why we need to start with a mass felling of large, well established trees.
The council has made a management plan for Byron’s Pool for 2004-7 available on its website, but has not released the current plan with similar details for the current scheme. I have therefore made a request for the release of the current management plan using the Freedom of Information Website – Whatdotheyknow.com
Cambridge City Council have recently been on a tree destroying rampage, with a row of healthy trees removed from Parker’s Piece just before Christmas, and plans to fell 59 trees on Jesus Green being approved by councillors in October 2008 as part of a bid for lottery money for works on Jesus Green. The felling of fifty nine trees on Jesus green was approved without input from the council’s arboricultural officers, a stance Cllr Ward has defended.
The below Google Maps aerial view can be dragged around using the mouse enabling the diverse canopy of fabulous trees at Byron’s Pool to be explored from above: