Trees are under threat in cities - and Dulwich is no exception. Big street trees are being replaced by smaller ones, many people are worried about subsidence (and blaming trees) and new residents often can't seem to wait to get their hands on the chain saw once they move in - whatever the rules of the Dulwich Estate say to the contrary. In an effort to stem the creeping erosion of Dulwich's arboricultural heritage, the trees and wildlife committees have compiled an A4 information sheet for distribution to householders.

The idea is that members of the society can, if they wish, distribute the sheet to friends and neighbours or post it through letterboxes in their street - particularly if somebody has just moved in. Many residents, particularly new ones, seem unaware of the estate rule banning the lopping or felling of trees without permission and the fashion for garden makeovers often means people want to redesign everything from scratch as soon as they arrive. By the time their neighbours wake up to the destruction, it's too late. Intervening personally can also be awkward: many people do not relish it. Popping a leaflet through somebody's door is one way of forestalling this, and correcting a few misconceptions at the same time.

The information sheet reminds people of the estate's rules on trees and also details the huge benefits trees bring to city-dwellers. These range from increasing property values - by as much as 18 per cent - to combating dust and pollution, preventing respiratory disease, providing shade and generally air-conditioning urban areas. A mature tree, for example, has a cooling and moisturising capacity equivalent to five room-sized air conditioners left on for 19 hours every day. The leaflet makes the point that trees are often wrongly blamed for subsidence and suggests householders get expert second opinions if an insurance company claims a tree has to go.

Trees are also vital for wildlife. More of us, the leaflet suggests, could help avert the national and global biodiversity crisis by making our gardens greener.

If you would like copies of the sheet for distribution, please contact 0208 693 5789 or 0208 693 1447.

David Nicholson-Lord
Trees and Wildlife committees

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