A SAPLING planted in a leafy South Tyneside park to replace a storm-damaged tree has marked a ‘green’ milestone for the borough.
The tree is the 1,000th to be planted in the last year by South Tyneside Council, which is responsible for more than a million trees in parks and open spaces, woodlands, tree-lined streets and highways across the borough.
In the last year, new trees have been planted in areas such as Jubilee Wood in Jarrow and Harton Quays Park in South Shields.
Some are planted where removal of existing trees is the only option, including an ash tree that was torn down in West Park, South Shields by last week’s gale-force winds.
Coun Tracey Dixon, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for area management and community safety, joined local authority tree team apprentice Phil Amess and Daniel Wharrier, an arborist with the council’s tree contractor Glendale Countryside, to plant a sapling. She said: “Trees contribute enormously to the beauty and quality of our parks and open spaces, as well as enhancing the landscape of our towns.
“They also provide shade and shelter, absorb pollutants from the atmosphere, act as wind, noise and visual barriers and provide a valuable habitat for wildlife.
“There is little that can be done to prevent damage caused by severe weather, and any tree that falls has to be removed.
“We look to replace each one and I was delighted to get involved in planting our 1,000th new tree of the year in West Park.”
South Tyneside Council has a team of officers who regularly assess trees to make sure they are not damaged or threatened with disease, and do not cause a risk to people or property.
The council was also one of the first local authorities to produce a comprehensive tree and woodland policy, with protection and sustainability at its forefront.
When a tree is removed, the tree team recycles all the timber by-products. Wood chip or timber is largely used as bio-fuel or wood mulch, but also used by local artists for craft.
Officers also work with the local community – including schoolchildren, community groups and members of the public – in planting schemes and encouraging people to take part in regular talks and tree identification walks.
The contract with Glendale Countryside also has a long history of successful apprentice schemes in South Tyneside, with, on average, two local apprentices employed each year.
Coun Dixon added: “Trees are highly valued by many people.
“They offer a multitude of physical, economic and psychological benefits and it’s important that they are well looked after.
“Our tree team and partners do a tremendous job in making sure the borough’s trees are healthy and looking their best.
“If future generations are to enjoy the same benefits and beauty from the trees that our generation has inherited, then it is essential that we continue our programme of replacing each one that is lost, for whatever reason that may be.”