Tree of the Year: Hackney tree set to be felled wins award - BBC News
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Tree of the Year: Hackney tree set to be felled wins award

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image copyrightTessa Chan/Woodland Trust
image captionLocal residents have installed artworks and raised petitions to try and save the tree from being cut down

A mature London plane tree set to be felled for redevelopment has won England's Tree of the Year title.

The "Happy Man Tree" in Hackney was nominated for the contest in the spring and topped the poll as this year's Tree of the Year.

The 150-year old tree is one of 33 to be felled for redevelopment of the Woodberry Down estate, which is set to provide 584 new homes.

Local community members have been campaigning to save it.

Noemi Menendez, a Woodberry Down resident who is part of the community efforts to save the tree, said: "Today is an important day for the campaigners of the Friends of the Happy Man Tree."

The Woodland Trust said the dressing of the tree, and the signs behind it, were testament to the strength of feeling among the local campaigning.

"As an urban tree, it makes an important contribution to combating air pollution and making grey city streets green," it added.

image copyrightTessa Chan/Woodland Trust
image captionThe London plane tree grows on the public pavement on the North End of Lordship Road on Woodberry Grove, London N4

Ms Menendez said: "Planning with a heart will solve the problem we have faced during this campaign; it is a false argument that we only care for one tree and nothing else. We want the tree and the homes; they are both equally important."

Adam Cormack, for the Woodland Trust, said: "In too many places we see well-loved mature trees lost to development rather than designed in to plans from the start.

"When this happens it's a lose-lose situation. The tree itself is lost and people lose something that made their lives better."

He said the redevelopment would provide important social housing and Hackney Council had been doing some great work to increase green spaces and tree cover.

But, with the developer saying the tree could have been retained if plans were amended earlier in the consultation process, "we must call this out for being a poor decision", he said.

"Efforts to create new homes and better places to live must start with protecting existing trees, and their avoidable loss must always be prevented," he urged.

image copyrightTessa Chan/Woodland Trust
image captionRecorded on an ordnance survey map in 1870, the "Happy Man Tree" is over 150 years old

The winning tree for Wales is the Chapter House Tree, Margam Park, Port Talbot, a historic fern-leaved beech tree which envelops the remains of one of the first Cistercian abbeys in the country and provides shelter to visitors.

In Scotland, the top prize was won by the Survivor Tree, in Carrifran Valley in the Borders, a lone rowan which became an emblem for the restoration group fundraising to buy the land 20 years ago.

Related Topics

  • Trees
  • Hackney

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