Trees, Science and Opinion

4th January 2014

Ancient Woodlands. Replacing the Irreplaceable?

Ancient woodlands are our rainforests. Beyond their massive ecological value, they culturally define who we are. This value can be seen in our emotional responses when ancient woodlands come under threat. Often perceived as fragments of a primeval ‘wildwood’ – a living link to the woodland from the end of the Ice Age – in truth, these ancient woods are not fragments of primeval wildwood, but have been influenced by human activity over thousands of years. Indeed, it is often […]
19th August 2013

Non-natives are welcome!

Ordinarily, if you were to pick up a copy of the Guardian newspaper and read an article that decried how councils were allowing non-natives to flood into our towns and cities, you would rightly do a double take to make sure you hadn’t mistakenly picked up the wrong paper. However, such nationalistic sentiment was at the heart of the recent piece by George Monbiot. The difference being, of course, is that he was talking about TREES; but it’s interesting how […]
5th February 2013

A room with a view

  “A view? Oh, a view! How delightful a view is!” – E.M. Forster   Aesthetic preferences suggest that an individual’s visual encounter with certain landscapes will elicit pleasurable neurophysiological activity. Or in other words, people like nice views. Research shows that people prefer natural scenes over urban ones; with park-like views generally scoring highest, leading to claims that such preferences are hard-wired. People are willing to pay for a nice view from their home. Most (but not all) studies suggest that […]
1st October 2012


The postings on the blog page have been few and far between of late, largely due to me being kept busy with a large tree survey of all the roadside trees in Sheffield. In light of this I thought I’d share some of this lovely document; produced circa 1947 by the Council for the preservation of rural England, Sheffield and Peak District Branch (now C.P.R.E South Yorkshire). What struck me most about the 65 year old pamphlet is how contemporary many […]
18th July 2012

Dead Trees

  Aesthetically a large dead tree is a magnificent sight. Dead trees also provide vital habitat and the benefits of deadwood for biodiversity are massive.  If a tree dies it can’t be legally protected by a Tree Preservation Order. The Woodland Trust had recently been campaigning to have the exemption for dead trees to be removed from Tree Preservation Order Regulations. They were dismayed when the new Tree Preservation Order Regulations (TPO Regulations 2012), which came into force in April 2012, still retained the exception for dead trees. For […]
6th July 2012

The People’s Forest of Sheffield

Sheffield is England’s fourth largest city, with a population of over half a million. Like many northern former industrial cities it has a disproportionate share of the most deprived areas in the country. The 1980s were turbulent times for Sheffield, with massive job losses and large scale industrial action. During this time Sheffield became known satirically as the ‘People’s Republic of South Yorkshire’ in reference to the left-wing administration of Sheffield City Council, and depending upon your political leanings at the time, the term was used derisively or […]
31st May 2012

Arboriculturist or Arboriculturalist?

    The practice of arboriculture is ancient. The image above shows it was a subject worthy of being painted about on ancient Egyptian tomb walls, clearly showing people transplanting and caring for trees. The word arboriculture is also old; derived from the Latin arbor (tree), and cultura (tending or caring). Today the terms “Arboriculturist” and “Arboriculturalist” are both used to describe a person who practices professional arboriculture – but which one is the right word?   Arboriculture was a term apparently […]
3rd May 2012
Cherry Tree Sheffield

Sheffield Hanami

  Shining spring day Falling cherry blossoms with my calm mind Kino Tomonari   My street, in the North West suburbs of Sheffield, is a nice enough, but unremarkable row of 1930’s built semi-detached houses. The Cherry ‘Kanzan’ trees that line my street too, are for most of the year, fairly unremarkable. Historically one of the most planted street trees in Sheffield’s suburbs; many have now died off or succumbed to the perils of new drives and highway improvements. If […]
26th April 2012

Do Tree Preservation Orders work, or is there a better way?

  New Tree Preservation Order Regulations (TPO Regulations 2012) came into force in England on the 6th April 2012. England. There is a memo to go with the Regs that sets out clearly what all the changes are.    The TPO Regulations 2012 aim to put all Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) onto the same footing and consolidate much existing legislation into one new set of regulations. Essentially, the DCLG have attempted to simplify the TPO process in the new regulations, which in itself […]
11th April 2012

Living next to trees makes us happier.

Findings of a study, published as part of the Forestry Commission Research Report: Trees, people and the built environment, show that residents are happier if they live near to trees. The study compared the happiness levels of 200 tenants renting properties from a Yorkshire housing charity; half of the tenants questioned had high levels of nearby tree cover and half had few or no nearby trees. The results showed that even with everything else broadly the same, tenants with high […]