Trees, Science and Opinion

October 18, 2017

Sheffield’s Heritage Trees vs Private Finance Initiative

Forest Research, the research agency of the Forestry Commission, publishes tree pest and disease alerts and advisory notes in the form of bulletins and handbills, showing signs and symptoms of tree pests and diseases and advice on what to do if you suspect the pest or disease is present. This bulletin is a lighthearted parody of their pest and disease alerts, it’s intended to make us think how we would react if Private Finance Initiatives, or PFI,  were a destructive […]
October 9, 2017

How do trees change colour in autumn? 

  “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”  ― Albert Camus  Trees display a vast array of impressive colours throughout autumn. These various hues of yellows, oranges, pinks, reds and browns are what provide most of us the first real indication that the seasons are changing. They provide us with a final colourful spectacle before winter sets in – the year’s last, loveliest smile.  The changing leaves on the trees are the main association most of […]
February 16, 2017

Komorebi (木漏れ日): Sunshine filtering through the trees.

There is a Japanese term “Komorebi”, for which no simple English translation exists. Yet it is a distinct phenomenon, that anyone who spends time among trees will have enjoyed. Komorebi  roughly translates as “the scattered light that filters through when sunlight shines through trees”. It is made up of three “Kanji” or Chinese characters: “tree” or “trees”, “leaking-through” or “escape”, and “light” or “sun”. Komorebi is especially noticeable when the sun is low, and mist or smoke can add to the […]
December 17, 2016

How can Sheffield heal divisions over the tree-felling controversy?

The Sheffield Telegraph runs a debate feature every week called Telegraph Voices. A journalist contacted me last week, to take part in a debate entitled: ‘How can Sheffield heal divisions over the tree-felling controversy?’ As ever, it’s tricky to cover such an emotive and complex issue – and to suggest pragmatic solutions – in just 300 words. “There is little room for sentimentality when managing urban trees. Eventually every street tree will decline and need to be replaced. Some protesters […]
November 30, 2016

Sheffield Tree Desecration

      Picture the scenario…   Due to Council budget cuts, The Cenotaph (the national War Memorial in central London) has not had the maintenance it deserves and is in need of some TLC, so the Council outsource War Memorial management to a Spanish infrastructure services company, who are contracted to maintain it for the next 25 years. The company then have a marvelous idea: To save on annual maintenance costs, they knock it down and tarmac the area over – thereby […]
November 17, 2016

Welcoming the Introduction of Operation Arborcide!

We have all seen how trees can strike at any time and any place without warning. The threat from trees is real and serious. So it is good to see South Yorkshire Police being deadly serious about protecting the people of Sheffield from the arboreal menace. In the early hours of today, a dozen police officers demonstrated a range of tactics to protect the public, including arresting elderly residents who ‘peacefully’ protested the essential work to keep us safe from these […]
November 6, 2016

Shinrin-yoku: Science or Art?

A new phrase recently entered the lexicon of forestry and trees – Shinrin-yoku. It’s a Japanese term that roughly translates in English as “Forest Bathing”, or visiting a forest for relaxation and recreation. I first heard it around five years ago, at a forestry conference, and judging by the number of raised eyebrows, this was the first time many other tree professionals in the room had heard the term too. While Shinrin-yoku may sound ancient and conjure up romantic images […]
February 19, 2016

Neuro-Arboriculture: Your Brain On Trees.

Most tree problems are fairly straightforward to solve: the rooting environment can be improved, branches can be pruned or braced, and trees can be felled and replaced. It becomes much less straightforward when you add people. Deep-seated, even hard-wired emotions define people’s interactions with trees. However, the neurological basis of people’s connection to trees remains a mystery.    Research on the economic and environmental benefits of urban trees has amassed. It shows how urban trees reduce pollution, mitigate extreme weather events, reduce […]
January 27, 2016

Sheffield Tree Felling:

  The cherry blossoms that stirred me, shade me no more Issa In Spring 2012 I wrote Sheffield Hanami, about the cherry trees outside my house in Sheffield. In late Summer 2013 I came home one evening to find a “notice to fell” pinned on the tree outside my house. It stated the tree had “outgrown it’s location” and was causing a “footpath obstruction”. Despite my best attempts to argue/pull-strings/beg, with anyone who would listen, the photos show what happened […]
January 16, 2016

Ackee: The Toxic Tree That Tastes Delicious.

The Ackee tree, Blighia sapida, is a tree of contradictions. In Jamaica, the Ackee tree is revered – more popular than Bob Marley. The Ackee fruit is the National Fruit of Jamaica, and forms the key ingredient in the National Dish of Jamaica, Ackee and Saltfish. However, the tree is also deadly. The fruits are highly poisonous, even having a specific illness named after them (symptoms include severe vomiting, coma and death). The Ackee tree is so toxic it is […]