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.