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UPDATE: Urban Green Newcastle’s tree maintenance programme

With the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, Urban Green Newcastle is re-starting many of its maintenance programmes that had to be put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

One of the most urgent is the works to trees. This work was originally planned for the beginning of the year, and we are aware that now is not the ideal time to be carrying out this work. However, we have an overriding responsibility to ensure the safety of park users, and some of our trees need urgent work. 

We’d like to assure all park users that protecting our wildlife is our absolute priority. We have delayed the works to avoid the main nesting season for birds but some may still be present. All trees will be inspected before works are carried out, and if nesting birds are found, all work on that individual tree will be halted until the birds have fledged.

We have also appointed a specialist ecologist to survey for potential bats roosts. If any are found, further investigations will be carried out prior to advising on next steps. Bat boxes will be installed on neighboring trees to replace any potential roosts that might be disturbed.

These works follow a review of 10,000 trees across our estate, and follow-up detailed investigations. Unfortunately nearly 100 of our trees have been found to have hazardous levels of decay, requiring major works or removal. We are pleased that a more detailed analysis revealed that a few did not currently pose a threat to public safety, so we are retaining those for the time being.   

We understand that the removal of trees may be distressing for some, particularly those who visit the affected parks on a regular basis. We have worked with the Forestry Commission and Newcastle City Council, and all necessary permissions are in place. We have also created an interactive map so park users can see which trees, and which parks, are affected by our tree maintenance programme. Signage will also be added to some of the individual trees in our parks too.

We want to assure you that this is the most appropriate course of action. In a woodland setting, we could leave diseased trees to come to a natural end and contribute to the ongoing ecology of the area. Unfortunately this is not possible in areas such as our urban parks and where trees are presenting an immediate danger. In such situations we must prioritise the safety of you, our park users.

We will make sure that all parts of the tree are put to good use, such as timber for park benches, or firewood. And where appropriate, we will leave some logs and branches on the ground to decay naturally as this provides valuable habitat for insects, birds and fungi.

Urban Green Newcastle has committed to planting at least two new trees for every diseased tree we remove, ensuring our parks remain vibrant and beautiful places for people to enjoy today, and long into the future too.

We’ve also spoken to local Friends’ groups to ensure members of the local community are aware of the work we are doing, and importantly, why.

Jane Hayes, Friends of Heaton and Armstrong Parks, said: "Whilst it’s always disappointing for trees to come down, we do understand why this work is taking place; it’s sad, but necessary. It is positive to know more trees will be planted to replace the ones we are losing. Overall, we’re pleased to see the progress in Heaton and Armstrong parks."

Sue Stokel-Walker, Friends of Jesmond Dene, said: “The Friends of Jesmond Dene welcomes Urban Green Newcastle’s planned tree maintenance work within the Dene. As a steep sided wooded dene, trees play a major role in the visitor experience and have to be managed for safety and habitat value.”

If you have any questions or concerns about the works outlined above, please contact us by emailing info@urbangreennewcastle.org

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