Southwark’s trees

In Southwark, we value trees as a vital component of the borough’s landscape. We have 82,500 trees that bring joy to people in our parks, on our highways, in schools, estates and elsewhere. But, these trees are valued beyond their aesthetic appeal, not only are they an important part of our landscape, they are also home to an abundance of wildlife and a key component in our plans to combat the Climate Emergency, here in Southwark.

This is why we map and record the history of each and every tree, and why we have a dedicated team of trained and experienced tree professionals, who work hard to make sure that our trees are as health and safe as possible.

Caring for Southwark’s trees

All trees have a natural lifespan which varies from one species to another and the conditions in which they are living. Generally, street trees have an average life span of 50 to 60 years whereas an oak or yew tree can grow for several hundreds of years in natural conditions.

Sadly, trees are also susceptible to a number of diseases; some of the most common here in Southwark are Ganoderma species, Giant Polypore and Honey Fungus. These and the majority of other such diseases are wood-decaying bacteria, for which there is, unfortunately, no treatment. However, in many cases, trees can be encouraged to live longer through pruning, which is why we undertake regular inspections and carry out remedial works whenever appropriate.

When a tree can no longer be retained it must be removed in order to prevent accidents occurring and maintain our duty of care to the public.

Although it is always regrettable when a tree has to be felled, we always record the location so that we can plant a replacement tree in future planting seasons. When replacing trees we always give consideration to selecting species which are pest and disease resistant, suitable for their location and a green asset to the local community.

Page last updated: 05 November 2021

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