‘Dangerous’ trees get the chop

2019-12-10 06:00

“It’s about time.”

This is the sentiment of Woodlands residents who say they are pleased with the City of Cape Town’s decision to trim large trees in the area.

The City announced last week that they would be pruning 22 large trees in a pilot project in Woodlands.

Resident Waseema Pietersen says although she does not have any trees in front of her house, she is still affected.

“I make use of public transport, so I need to walk to the main road. I pass by some of these trees and the little nuts that grow on the tree really hurts when it hits you,” she says.

Fellow resident Peter Williams agrees, saying it is also a danger to vehicles.

“The higher they are, the harder they hit you. Or that is how it feels. This can easily cause dents or cracks,” he believes.

“The trees have been a part of our lives. I grew up seeing these trees all over Mitchell’s Plain,” he says.

Williams lives in Westridge but spends a lot of time in the Woodlands area, he says.

“There is the same problem all over Mitchell’s Plain. The mess of the leaves, the big branches and the little nuts that fall. We have become used to it but I am glad to see they are doing something. I just hope they won’t stop here and do all the overgrown trees in the area,” says Williams.

The initiative follows fears from residents that branches of large eucalyptus trees will fall unexpectedly, putting lives or property at risk.

But Cherryl May, a resident who has lived in the street for 40 years, says trimming the trees is not enough.

“We want this tree in front of our house removed. It is an obstruction for me reversing out of my driveway,” says May.

She continues that she has already been the victim of crime and had motorised her gates as a result.

“These little nuts get in the track. We had to put broom heads on the gate to keep the track clean because this can damage the motor,” she says.

May says it would be better for the trees to be replaced with indigenous trees as these trees sap a lot of water and their roots are causing damage to the sidewalks and roads.

Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for comunity services and health, says safety has been taken into consideration when the project was undertaken.

The trees will be trimmed to be between seven and 10m – the average height of a streetlight pole – by a contractor appointed by the City’s recreation and parks department. The trees are believed to have been planted in the 1980’s as part of the ‘Greening the City’ initiative.

While the City acknowledges the presence of Eucalyptus gomphocephala trees all throughout Mitchell’s Plain, the street has been identified as a pilot site to test the effectiveness of this pruning method in reducing the fall of branches without destroying the trees.

“Regular methods of drop-crotch pruning have been used to trim lateral branches to keep street signs and lights clear, however, no cuts were made off the top, in accordance with the City’s tree maintenance standards,” says Badroodien in a statement.

The shape of the trees are visibly tall and narrow with no low hanging branches as a result of this method.

“The trees continue to grow upwards until branches are unable to hold their own weight and subsequently fall down during severe weather episodes,” says Badroodien.

The City’s policy on tree management is that all trees are valuable and are only to be pruned for sound arboricultural or safety reasons, Badroodien continues.

“In August this year, a storm caused one of the trees in Eros Way to be uprooted and fall over, causing damage to three properties. Several consultants were appointed to assess the risk of other trees in the area and the recommendation was to cut the tops of the trees on the affected street as a pilot to test tree response and reduce safety risks. If proven effective, the method will be extended to other avenues where similar trees are deemed to be a safety hazard,” says Badroodien.

He continues, saying while every effort is made to preserve the trees, the safety of residents is the first priority.

“Pruning is generally conducted during cool winter periods, to reduce shock and loss of trees; however, an exception has been made on Eros Way following the safety incident. If the pruning is required on other avenues it is likely to be rolled out between May and September when conditions are more conducive to pruning,” says Badroodien.

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