Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colony

Discussion forum for conservation of butterflies.
selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colony

Postby selbypaul » Fri Jan 01, 2016 1:37 pm

Hi there everybody
As you may know, I live in Sheffield. The city is famous for it's tree lined streets, and supposedly we have more trees per person than any other UK city.

However, in 2012, Sheffield City Council signed a long term contract with Amey, in effect contracting out road and pavement maintenance for 25 years. This contract is proving to be a disaster for the street trees. It is projected that around half of Sheffield's street trees will be felled by Amey, for reasons such as safety and "damage to kerbs." The real reasons are that the Amey contract allows them to be paid for planting trees, and that young trees require less maintenance, pruning, and leaf sweeping than older trees. So in effect Amey are triply incentivised to fell the old trees.

As you will imagine, this huge felling programme has aroused huge controversy. The major felling begins in 2016, although their specific plans began to be published in summer 2015, and already started to gain national attention. I won't go in to details here, but the consultation process is deeply flawed. Other residents are fighting the legal battle on this issue.

Just before Christmas, the plans for my Nether Edge neighbourhood in Sheffield were released. Disastrously, an Elm Tree of between 150 and 200 years old is listed for felling. As you can imagine, given the various waves of Dutch Elm Disease (DED) since the 1970's such aged Elm Tree's are very rare. The tree is currently being tested to see if its DNA reveals it to be immune from DED, as a number of nearby trees succumbed at the time, but this tree remained healthy. It is perhaps one of around 500 old Elm Trees in the whole of the UK (outside of the protected zones in Brighton and Edinburgh). And if it is resistant, it would make it an "Internationally Significant" tree.

Subsequent conversations with other residents in the neighbourhood have revealed something I didn't know beforehand, that the tree hosts a colony of White Letter Hairstreak butterflies!!! I saw the photographic evidence from two separate people, which I found incredible.

So in effect we have an internationally significant tree with a nationally important colony of an increasingly rare butterfly.

I'm writing this post on here to seek advice from anyone who has experience in these matters about what I can do to protect this specific tree. What I've already done is:
a) Contact Butterfly Conservation to seek their help and advice (I'm still awaiting their response)
b) Contacted the Great British Elm experiment who are currently doing the DNA testing
c) Registered the tree as a Heritage Tree with the Woodland Trust
d) Contacted the local newspaper, who are going to be running an article next week, including a photo of a large group of protestors by the tree
e) Written twice to the Local Councillor with specific questions (I'm still awaiting a response)

I also intend to use the local press coverage and the rest of the information above to see if I can get national press coverage.

Does anyone have any other advice about what else I can do?
Thanks in advance
Paul

User avatar
David M
Posts: 7943
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:17 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby David M » Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:41 pm

You've already done a good deal, Paul, and I wish you every success with it (elm trees older than 100 are iconic even without resident butterflies!)

Have you considered using social media to add to the campaign? Things can go 'viral' occasionally with such publicity, and given the successful agreement reached by the climate change committee last month, one would hope that conservation of natural resources has never had a higher profile.

selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:46 pm

Thanks David
Yes, there is a Facebook Group called "Save Nether Edge Trees." I've posted a few times and they've been shared, liked and replied to. The posts appear to have encouraged others to write to the Council in complaint too!
Any more suggestions would be welcome
Paul

EricY
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:36 pm

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby EricY » Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:55 pm

Typical of the way befuddled counsel's do business these days. I have passed on a link to my daughter who lives in Sheffield & her in-laws & hope they will spread the message through their own contacts in the area. Eric

User avatar
ayjay
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 10:36 am

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby ayjay » Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:56 pm

selbypaul wrote:Any more suggestions would be welcome
Paul


I wouldn't stop at the local council, involve any Sheffield MP's and any Sheffield born/based celebrities (maybe there is a use for celebrities after all), Michael Palin and Jessica Ennis spring to mind, they neither have quite the same National Treasure status as Joanna Lumley, but must run her close.

User avatar
Gruditch
Moderator & Stock Contributor
Moderator & Stock Contributor
Posts: 1681
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:30 pm
Location: Hampshire
Contact:

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Gruditch » Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:27 pm

When I was on my Parish Council, I was stunned how easy it was to get a preservation order on an individual tree. Some people would even get preservation orders on a trees in a neighbours gardens. :shock:

I should imagine you have already done this, but if not, it's worth looking into.

Regards Gruditch

selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:00 am

Thanks for passing the message on EricY

In terms of the other suggestions, someone has contacted local celebrities, with mixed results so far.

Agree that I intend to go to the local MP once I have fuller information, and the council have responded to my email.

On the Tree Preservation Order front, I tried about a year ago to do this, but was fobbed off, saying it is highly unusual to put a TPO on a street tree. More recently I've been told by a couple of the protesters that street tree legislation trumps TPO legislation, so it isn't worth going down this route. Not sure if that is correct or not?

selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:05 pm

The article in Sheffield Star newspaper, together with a photo and video of the protest yesterday can be seen at the following weblink

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/local/pro ... -1-7653062

User avatar
David M
Posts: 7943
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:17 pm
Location: South Wales

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby David M » Sun Jan 03, 2016 1:59 pm

Sterling work, Paul. You must keep us updated on progress.

Well done, sir.

selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:24 pm

Thanks David. Using the local newspaper article, I've now sent the weblink and some more of the details to all the national newspapers. Here's hoping one of them decides the story is worthy of attention!

I'm also going to try the local BBC News too

essexbuzzard
Posts: 1362
Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:23 pm

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby essexbuzzard » Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:46 pm

When i wanted to reduce the size of an oversized tree in my small front garden,i was told i couldn't touch it as it has a preservation order on it. I didn't want to cut it down,i'd never do that. Just reduce it. The amount of red tape amazed me-it's not even a native tree!

What i'm trying to say it don't be easily fobbed off.If you can't get a preservatin order on tree, well i don't know. Your 200 year elm must be more important than the introduced thorn tree in my front garden!

Also,it may have some regional interest as this is probably near the northern edge of White-letter Hairstreaks Britis range?

User avatar
Jamie Burston
Posts: 111
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2014 1:08 am
Location: Brighton

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Jamie Burston » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:08 pm

I've contacted Peter Bourne to see what he suggest or can do. I've emailed this thread to him.
The following information describes the work he's done -
''I am researcher into elms (Ulmus) and have been studying the genus for over 25 years. I have a personal herbarium of rare elms in Brighton & Hove; a large photo collection and data on tree measurements done in the city. I helped to found the Tree Register and contributed data for the council to achieve a successful application for National Collection status for their elm population. I have also studied elms in Edinburgh and East Sussex. I am currently embarking on a scheme to save some very rare elm cultivars found in the city of Brighton and Hove UK. ! 2 of which are listed in Wikipedia as "Possibly extinct".''
''curator of the National Collection of elms in Brighton.''
All the best,
Jamie

selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:19 pm

essexbuzzard wrote:When i wanted to reduce the size of an oversized tree in my small front garden,i was told i couldn't touch it as it has a preservation order on it. I didn't want to cut it down,i'd never do that. Just reduce it. The amount of red tape amazed me-it's not even a native tree!

What i'm trying to say it don't be easily fobbed off.If you can't get a preservatin order on tree, well i don't know. Your 200 year elm must be more important than the introduced thorn tree in my front garden!

Also,it may have some regional interest as this is probably near the northern edge of White-letter Hairstreaks Britis range?


Hi there
I've got confirmation now that Highways legislation trumps Tree Preservation Order legislation. So we could get a TPO, but it wouldn't mean anything. We'd need higher legislation again, something like "Green Monument" status.
I like you thought a TPO was important, and it seems it is if on normal private land. But if a tree interferes with the highway, the TPO means nothing. I learn new things every day!!!
Paul

selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:21 pm

Jamie Burston wrote:I've contacted Peter Bourne to see what he suggest or can do. I've emailed this thread to him.
The following information describes the work he's done -
''I am researcher into elms (Ulmus) and have been studying the genus for over 25 years. I have a personal herbarium of rare elms in Brighton & Hove; a large photo collection and data on tree measurements done in the city. I helped to found the Tree Register and contributed data for the council to achieve a successful application for National Collection status for their elm population. I have also studied elms in Edinburgh and East Sussex. I am currently embarking on a scheme to save some very rare elm cultivars found in the city of Brighton and Hove UK. ! 2 of which are listed in Wikipedia as "Possibly extinct".''
''curator of the National Collection of elms in Brighton.''
All the best,
Jamie


Thanks Jamie, that's an interesting lead

EricY
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:36 pm

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby EricY » Thu Jan 07, 2016 4:55 pm

Paul, did you see last nights (Wednesday 6th) Star newspaper good picture of protest last Saturday by 100 people & council are re-assessing & will not be removed until results are known. Eric

selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Fri Jan 08, 2016 7:41 pm

EricY wrote:Paul, did you see last nights (Wednesday 6th) Star newspaper good picture of protest last Saturday by 100 people & council are re-assessing & will not be removed until results are known. Eric


I did EricY. Indeed I organised the protest, and gave the story to the Star. There is an as yet unsubstantiated statement from a lower level Amey worker that a positive solution has been found. But I've yet to have the official written proof. Fingers crossed!

User avatar
Jack Harrison
Posts: 3880
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:55 pm
Location: Nairn, Highland
Contact:

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Jack Harrison » Sat Jan 09, 2016 11:13 am

It might be worth getting in contact with Brighton where they have proudly conserved their Elms.

Sheffield is indeed a delightful city. I was unfamiliar - and still am to a large extent - until my daughter was at Uni there from 2012-2015.

If I may say so, Sheffield doesn't seem to sell itself sufficiently as a tourist centre. It remains a little bit of an "unknown" to most people. Compare to say York or Harrogate which ARE well known as tourist localities.
Maybe Sheffield needs some floods to bring it to pubic attention :evil:

----------

EssexBuzzard's comments about his garden Elm has got be a little worried. I inherited a 4 metre tall Elm (well that's what I think it is an a local expert agrees). It is growing a mere 4 mtres from the bungalow so if allowed to grow too tall, would pose a danger to foundations. The tree surgeon is happy to keep it to about that height.

This debate prompted me to go out into the back garden and take this:

Image

That isn't of course "my" tree but a few hundred metres across the fields. The big one is perhaps 30 metres tall. Are they elms?

Jack

selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sat Jan 09, 2016 6:32 pm

Hi Jack
Well I like Sheffield, but having lived here for 12 years now I am a bit biased! I wouldn't put it in the same league as York and Harrogate however. Of the big UK cities though, it is the greenest and friendliest. Most trees per person in the UK, and only 10 minutes drive from my doorstep to the deepest darkest Peak District. Can't be too bad!

As for that tree picture, it is difficult to tell when not in leaf. The branch structure hints it might be, but the trunk doesn't look ridged enough from the distance of the photo
You'll have to get a little closer Jack!!! ;-)

Paul

User avatar
Jack Harrison
Posts: 3880
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 8:55 pm
Location: Nairn, Highland
Contact:

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby Jack Harrison » Sat Jan 09, 2016 7:44 pm

You'll have to get a little closer Jack!!! ;-)
Bit difficult to get closer. Not only would I struggle to get over the fences and hedges but I would have to do battle with the sheep :roll: Not to mention the local laird who does not like visitors to his land.

I'll take another shot in better lighting at [about 3 times] higher zoom and see if the bark structure can be discerned.
Not promising I will manage tomorrow as - according to some forecasts - it might be snow covered. Touch and go whether it rains or snows here, but on balance, I think rain the more likely

It is one of about three or flour similar trees along a field boundary - rather like pre-Elm disease days in Southern England many years ago.

Jack

selbypaul
Posts: 274
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 9:44 pm
Location: Sheffield

Re: Protection of Elm Tree and White Letter Hairstreak colon

Postby selbypaul » Sat Feb 06, 2016 5:21 pm

Just to keep everyone updated on the situation with the Elm Tree and WLH colony. A lot has happened in the last month.

Firstly Sheffield City Council tried to offer a sham consultation, "surveying" residents on streets with trees to be felled and putting in place a sham "independent panel" of "experts" for streets that voted to keep their trees. The lack of survey responses (due to technical "glitches") and lack of ability to submit evidence to the panel has showed what a sham this was.

The Council has received hundreds of complaints and questions, and the local papers have been full of complaints and letters. None of which have had specific answers from the council.

My contacting Butterfly Conservation got them in touch with the council. Extensive conversations seem to have been had. But the council have refused to keep the Elm Tree, instead offering to attempt a translocation of the eggs.

The council have secretly looked into alternative solutions to keep the tree and been quoted £70,000 for an alternative kerbing solution! One councillor let this slip but has refused alternative quotes of £2000, and are using the £70,000 cost as why the tree must be felled.

The issue of the Elm Tree reached the Guardian newspaper through my efforts in mid January, and the whole city tree issues had 30 minutes on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 show on Friday this week, including a brief mention of the Elm.

The council have suddenly launched a huge felling campaign in some neighbourhoods. And have re-designated a number of trees as "dangerous" as cover for the felling.

The protesters reached 7000 signatures on a petition, which allowed for a full council debate on Wednesday this week. The council refused to engage, and filming of the session shows the councillors casting spurious accusations of criminality against the lead campaigners.

An appeal for funds for a legal campaign raised £7000 in 24 hours from local people enraged by the footage of the council session on Thursday this week.

On Friday, the campaigners served a High Court legal action against the council which (subject to few things) will hopefully force the council to pause felling subject to a legal investigation into their activity.

In summary it has been a depressing shown of complacent autocracy from the council. Thank goodness for the current legal action and the huge amount of time put in by some of the Sheffield residents. I'd currently give the Elm Tree currently a 50:50 chance of surviving.

I'll keep you updated as things progress.


Return to “Conservation”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest