Most people would agree that trees are valuable assets whether in woodlands, forests or urban streets.
They soak up large amounts of carbon dioxide, provide an ecosystem for wildlife and counter global warming. They provide shade in summer and delight us with their changing foliage through the seasons.
However, they are under attack by developers who wish to wring every penny out of their site. Rather than being seen as beneficial, they are often regarded as standing in the way of maximising profits.
St Andrews is not immune from these attacks on our sylvan friends. Two proposed developments, at Abbey Park and Hepburn Gardens can only go ahead if a significant number of attractive mature trees are sacrificed. On previous evidence, the developers will expect to get their way. Even trees on Council land can be targeted by developers.
An attractive prunus in Argyle Street Car Park, is scheduled for removal to facilitate four flats being built on a cramped site. A small patch of woodland at the junction of Lade Braes and Bridge Street seems destined for the same fate, although it contains a tree planted to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. The latter proposal is particularly shocking as it seems certain that the ground in question is common good land that cannot be sold by the council to the developer without a full public consultation.
Council officials who make these decisions do not appear to give proper weight to public opinion, or to value the important contribution that trees provide to human wellbeing.These public servants seem omnipotent in their decision-making which appears to place development before community interests.
The destruction of the Amazonian Rain Forest is often criticised by advocates for wildlife and climate change campaigners. The careless felling of our local trees should attract the same criticism and our Council could lead the way by influencing a culture change – to value these trees, rather than facilitate their removal whenever they stand in the way of development.