Ashes to Ashes: Hazardous Highways

If you don’t know what ash dieback is, it is worth checking out DEFA’s webpage: www.gov.im/ashdieback. This tree disease is going to dramatically change the appearance of our roads and landscapes over the next 10 years.

A question I am often asked is “what are the government doing about ash dieback?!”.

Due to the epidemiology of the disease, it is, unfortunately, nye on impossible to stop it spreading through our ash tree population. Because of this, DEFA have not attempted to start a control programme like they did for Dutch elm disease in the 1990’s. With no real interest in trying to prevent the spread of the disease, DEFA’s main interest relates to its duty of care to keep people safe on its own estate (i.e. in our national glens and forest areas). When ash succumb to this disease they have the potential to become a significant hazard to people and property. The Public Estates and Housing Division of the DoI, who manage a large and varied estate of public buildings and housing stock, also have this burden. Both these Departments of government have a ‘tree management strategy’ in place which sets out how they manage risk from trees, so as long as the policies and procedures set out in these documents are followed, and there is a budget available to undertake the work, risk of harm from diseased ash should be reduced to an acceptable level.

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Statutory Tree Protection – Time for a Rethink?

By Andrew Igoea, Senior Arboricultural Consultant

Until recently I was the Government’s senior tree officer. Part of my role at DEFA was to administer the Tree Preservation Act 1993 (TPA), so I can speak with some authority about the law and policies which are meant to protect trees on the Island, and I am well placed to critique our current system of statutory tree protection.

The TPA exists to protect amenity trees – those trees which the general population derive pleasure from due to their aesthetic qualities, or their contribution to the character or setting of an area. The current law prevents the felling of any tree with a stem thicker than 8cm (roughly the size of a tin of baked beans) at chest height without a licence issued by DEFA. It is important to point out – for reasons that will become clear – that this includes small trees. The law also provides a higher level of protection for trees which are ‘registered’, preventing any kind of pruning, above or below ground, without a licence. When both these elements are put together, it means that the Island has the highest level of statutory protection provided to trees anywhere in the British Isles – probably the whole of Europe.

So, what’s the problem? Listed below are some issues I discovered during my time working for DEFA.

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Who Needs Trees Anyway?

A simple guide for humans and other animals

Who needs air?

Everyone knows that trees absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and release oxygen (O2), but did you know that trees also remove nasty particles from the air we breathe?

Nasties, like sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NO), carbon monoxide (CO), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb), are produced by our cars and industries. These particles can cause very serious illness in us humans, so it is very important that we control the levels of these pollutants in our environment.

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Chainsaw Training Isle of Man

Through our sister company, Second Nature Ltd, and in partnership with Treevolution Scotland, we are very proud to be able to offer a variety of industry-recognised Lantra chainsaw courses here on the Isle of Man.

For further details please see our Training Courses page under the Services tab.