Councillors call for a dedicated tree officer

Councillors call for a dedicated tree officer
Picture Denis Minihane.

A TREE protection officer is being called for by members of Cork County Council in an effort to minimise the culling of healthy trees and to advise on the planting of appropriate trees in the county.

The motion, brought forward by Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton, looked for an officer dedicated to the growing and maintenance of trees across Cork County. The suggestion gathered a great deal of cross-party support with a number of councillors commending Mrs D’Alton for her idea.

Mrs D’Alton outlined a number of benefits of having trees in the environment, including their critical role in biodiversity and the absorption of pollutants.

Cllr Danielle Twomey (Sinn Féin) said it was a very worthy motion that tied in with her previous motion last month about the large scale felling of trees in West Cork. Ms Twomey said that there was a lack of communication with the public in terms of the reasons trees were being felled and also called for replanting in instances where trees are cut down.

Cllr Susan McCarthy (Fine Gael) said she noticed a lot of culling and felling in recent months, and said having someone in-house to make these assessments was important.

“We need to keep trees where possible for the many benefits outlined,” she said.

Cllr Noel Collins (Ind) lent his full support to the motion and said there were a number of trees which ended up posing a danger to people due to neglect and lack of maintenance.

“Preservation, maintenance, and cutting of branches is urgently needed,” Mr Collins said.

Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said formal notices from the council to landowners regarding overhanging branches needed to be clearer.

“They get a notice to cut trees and they just cut them all. They don’t realise it is just for overhanging branches. This issue needs attention,” he said.

Fine Gael Councillor Anthony Barry said having an expert on hand to advise the type of trees that are planned by the council in the county was very needed.

“The type of trees planted needs to be looked at, we should be planting native and indigenous trees that add more to the area instead of trees that are just there to look good.”

Cllr Alan O’Connor (Green Party) pointed out a study in Toronto that said the health benefits of living near trees are the same as a C$10,000 dollar raise and have the health benefits of being seven years younger. Cllr Kevin Murphy (Fine Gael) said it would be important to look at the powers that a Tree Protection Officer would have in terms of enforcement.

The motion was forwarded to the Environment Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) for discussion.

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