West Suffolk: Strategy to protect and manage the region’s trees to be unveiled

Trees in Nowton Park

Trees in Nowton Park - Credit: Archant

A new strategy to protect and manage hundreds of thousands of trees in the face of disease, increasing development and threat from climate change will be discussed next week.

The West Suffolk Tree Management Policy, which will be discussed by St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet on Tuesday, is designed to help standardise how both St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath District Council manage trees and woodland.

Damian Parker, West Suffolk Councils operation manager for leisure, culture and communities, said a vital part of the strategy was planning for the future and ensuring the authority was well placed to meet any challenges that cropped up in woodlands, parks and residential areas. He said: “Trees are vitally important to the area, people always think of Suffolk as a green and lovely place and we want it to continue that way. There will always be new diseases coming along, which is why we need a mixed covering of trees. One of the important bits of the strategy is making sure we are planning for the future and we’re planting the right trees in the right places.”

The plight of horse chestnuts, which have been ravaged by bleeding canker, is highlighted in the report as one of the reasons to plant mixed varieties of trees to avoid losing landscape trees - stating that “conker trees” are a “poorer choice” for planting. As well as threats posed by climate change Mr Parker said the strategy would address other modern problems. He added: “There are threats like new services going in through footways, demands from residents wanting trees removed because they are in the way of satellite dishes. “That’s why we need a common sense approach to deal with these issues and also flagging them as issues in their own right.”

Sarah Stamp, St Edmundsbury Borough Council Cabinet member for Leisure, Culture and Heritage said: “West Suffolk has a wealth of trees, treasured by our communities, which we have an important role in managing and protecting. For the past four years, St Edmundsbury has been working on an effective cycle of planned inspection and maintenance and it would be to everyone’s benefit to adopt this as joint policy with Forest Heath.

“On the one hand, it would help reduce the concern of householders when necessarily severe looking work is undertaken, and on the other, it would help reduce the number of requests we have to undertake work. We manage our built heritage along these lines, our living heritage deserves no less.”