The benefit of trees for carbon absorption

tree sprouting

Tree sapling growing near the stairs on the path towards the football pitch. It is a tree that nobody removes and can grow to 20m in height.

Whilst a study, carried out in the USA concluded that mature tree forests can absorb and store a lot of carbon emissions, as soon as a tree or shrub gets cut down, all that stored carbon gets released into the atmosphere, which in fact has no benefit at all from an environmental point of view.

One has to calculate the cost against the benefits.

In one of my recent posts I praised the Council for cutting down the shrubs around Rosebery House for the purpose of it being more secure but, the cutting down of shrubs around Rosebery House alone took one garden worker a whole week.

That is a lot of money being spend on 2 housing blocks on a council estate. Taking into account the materials and wages spent, I fully understand that leaseholders complain about their costs.

There is little environmental benefit on growing and cutting bushes and shrubs regularly as all the captured carbon gets released back into the atmosphere.

I have complained to the council about the over planting on the estate and the regular cutting down does little to alleviate the problems.

There would be a much better benefit for mental health and environmental considerations if the current shrubs (which are often cut short trees) get removed and replaced by soft shrubs with softer leafes, which could be fruit shrubs or flowering shrubs, that can also provide a home for small insects and bugs.

There would be much less maintenance required, which is very much cheaper for our residents.

hedghog

Hedghogs live on Parkview and proper planting will support their environment.

The hard leafed shrubs in the Rosebery House area do not attract butterflies or insects or small mammals like hedgehogs., they have no benefit whatsoever with the exception of looking green. In fact their roots could weaken the building structure of the house.

It would be much cheaper to maintain the area and be of more benefits to the residents if we could have the hard leafed shrubs removed and replaced with soft and low level plants.

Some of the trees around Rosebery House have quickly sprouting off-shoots as can be seen in the pic above. They just grow everywhere quickly into tall plants.

As already listed there are recommended distances from trees to buildings and it can actually devalue house insurance if trees are too near and I think the council does not consider this when allowing the over-planting of our estate.

And as there is the myth about oxyden production. I quote a popular site, which says:

“Humans consume 550 L oxygen per day (ref 1). How much plant growth do we need to produce that amount of oxygen? Plants produce 22 L for every 150 g of growth (ref 2). They would need to increase in weight by 3.75 Kg (8 pounds), each day, to produce the oxygen used by one person.” Ref

“It takes six molecules of CO2 to produce one molecule of glucose by photosynthesis, and six molecules of oxygen are released as a by-product. A glucose molecule contains six carbon atoms, so that’s a net gain of one molecule of oxygen for every atom of carbon added to the tree. A mature sycamore tree might be around 12m tall and weigh two tonnes, including the roots and leaves. If it grows by five per cent each year, it will produce around 100kg of wood, of which 38kg will be carbon. Allowing for the relative molecular weights of oxygen and carbon, this equates to 100kg of oxygen per tree per year.

A human breathes about 9.5 tonnes of air in a year, but oxygen only makes up about 23 per cent of that air, by mass, and we only extract a little over a third of the oxygen from each breath. That works out to a total of about 740kg of oxygen per year. Which is, very roughly, seven or eight trees’ worth.” Ref.

 

 

Shocking landscape maintenance

I have made a formal complaint to Tower Hamlets Council about the issues of tree planting, tree growth, plant maintenance and the prospective bee hive.

Rosebery House is part of the estate falling under a preservation area. It is a relatively low building and nested in between the higher buildings towards the park near the Regents Canal and Sankey House.

Rosebery House had been planned as a block of flats, surrounded by rose bushes. Parcels of land were left around the building for the rose bushes.

Less and less of the rose bushes are still in place or being maintained.

Over the years of my presence on this estate, I had reasons – severeal times – to complain about trees being allowed to grow too near the actual walls of the building.

Then I was told that the actual landscape gardeners have no power to remove tree saplings as they have a special tree department to deal with this.

Unfortunately too many trees are allowed to grow too near to the walls of the building. Subsidence is a definite danger. As our summers become dryer, the deep-rooted large bushes and short-cut trees, especially around the back of Rosebery House, may cause permanent damage to the building.

I understand that it is the land-owner who is responsible for this and that is Tower Hamlets Council.

The Rights of Light Act 1959 states that if a property has received daylight for the last 20 years (the minimum prescribed period), they may be entitled to continue to receive that light. We have a tree –  large shrub growing very near the walls of the house. Despite having complained about this around 10 years ago, when it was cut down, it is now again allowed to grow. The tree takes away all light from 2 ground floor flats. It is now 3 meters high and restricts access to the rubbish chute and hangs down. This can also be dealth with under the Anti-social behaviour act that this tree is allowed to do this.

In that context, the occupants of the flats, which had recently fruit trees planted in front of them will soon realise that those fruit trees will diminish day-light influx severely. I would encourage the residents to complain about those fruit trees being planted right in front of their flats. The fruit trees were planted by the Residents Assocation with permission from Tower Hamlets Homes. Yet the land-owner, Tower Hamlets Council is responsible and liable for any damage caused by trees on the estate.

Roesbery-16There are a number of trees around the base of Rosebery House with substantive stems and large roots, they should not be so near to the house. Yet the landscape gardeners keep on trimming them whilst the roots grow larger and also the stems as it is evident.

This space was originally intended as roses area but the roses have gone and trees grown instead.

Further around the house, there are more and more large shrubs and trees allowed to grow, which could cause substantive damage in dry summers as they may cause subsidance.

It seems insufficient that the gardeners allow trees to establish around Rosebery House and merely trim them to a smaller size, so they appear bushy instead of not allowing them to grow at all.

We all love trees and need them but they should not grow too near to houses.

 

private balconies

chillie-peppers

Chillie, sweet peppers and Squash plants, to grow on our balconies

Again we are being asked to clear all our belongings from our private balconies because the landlord wants to paint the railings yet again. They have recently been painted and I could not find a fault with the work.

Yet, letters have gone around Rosebery House to clear all the balconies. How are we supposed to establish a planting regime on our private balconies to take part in Tower Hamlets in Bloom if we have to clear our balconies every two years? One competition category is best balcony! It can take a couple of seasons for plants to establish and they often need to be undisturbed to develop at their best.

It’s more than unreasonable and flies in the face of our green agenda, whereby we want to establish bee and bug friendly planting? The BBC Springwatch and Autumnwatch programs encouraged us to create bug friendly environments and feed birds.

Tower Hamlets even hosted the London in Bloom Awards 2019.

I completely accept that our balconies need to be clean and free of combustible and other clutter, especially if they are community balconies but personal balconies are a personal space to relax in and grow personal produce.

I shall be raising the issue with the Councillor.

Beware of nuisance callers

At the last area Safer Neighbourhood Panel meeting, it was mentioned that some home-less groups are now using high-viz vests and wear them on a regular basis. There is a high concentration near Stepney Green Station and around the Sainsbury’s there.

I do not want to vilify the homeless, however if behaviour becomes concerning in that somebody, wearing a high-viz vest to pretend being an official from a housing organisation and attempts to enter resident’s flats using that pretence it becomes a worry.

Yesterday, a man, wearing a high-viz vest, knocked on my door, handed me a cooking thermometer and asked me to hold it under my bathroom sink for 10 minutes to give him a reading.

He pretended to be from Tower Hamlets Homes. THH thinks it is a bogus caller.  I do remember a THH letter going round, saying, that they do not check the water on resident’s taps regularly.

Many couriers and work personnel also wear high-viz, it is hard to distinguish them and the ID that man yesterday took out of his pocket, was quickly put away, before I could even see it.

It makes a resident weary to even open the door to a caller because if everybody now wears high-viz, good and bad, there is no longer any proof that a caller, who visibly wears a high-viz and can be seen through the spyhole can be trusted.

How are residents supposed to be happily opening the doors to delivery couriers if the person outside could easily be a potential criminal also?

We do not have any entry system in Rosebery House, couriers may find it hard to even place one of those new delivery box systems into our block.

Burglary in Rosebery House

Recently a flat, shared by several persons has been burgled with all laptops stolen. That is very worrying, especially also that there are now increasingly noisy incidences happening around the back of the house with cars being driven around noisily.

For the purpose of preventing burglaries may I recommend the following, which is especially important in shared dwellings:

  • Always keep the balcony doors locked
  • keep internal rooms individually locked when out
  • ensure that the front door locks are changed each time a resident in a shared flat changes.

To report suspicious and/or disturbing activities keep logs of

  • number of persons
  • descriptions of persons
  • time of occurence
  • car registration numbers
  • take photos if possible but only supply to the police.

Please contact your local Safer Neighbourhood team with all information and use their e-mail to send it through. If you need the e-mail please contact the webmaster here.

You can also report concerns via the MET Police or Bethnal Green section website. 

But if there is an ongoing incident ring 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress.

I shall discuss this issue at the next Neighbourhood Safety Panel in the near future as well. The police will need direct reports from all residents who have problems to be able to act upon it.