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Trees & hedges: Frequently Asked Questions

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13. Tree management and its effect on wildlife

Managing trees in a way that protects wildlife

We place great value on our local wildlife and biodiversity, and fulfil all our legal, ethical and moral obligations through due care and diligence.

An environmental risk assessment is carried out by our operational teams before works are undertaken, taking into account potential habitats for both invertebrates and vertebrates.

Bird nesting season runs from 28 February to 1 August (Natural England, 2018). All birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Due to the ongoing requirement for tree management, our own teams and our contractors are required to work on trees throughout the year. Pre-works checks are carried out in accordance with current legislation before works commence. Following the initial checks, each site is constantly monitored (eg for nests and other habitats such as bat roosts) for the duration of the works.

Should evidence of active habitats be found subsequently in close proximity to the work zone then all works will be stopped immediately and a re-evaluation undertaken.

We aim to carry out works in areas of dense vegetation, woodlands and hedges during the winter months to reduce the risk of causing disturbance to nesting birds. Where the presence of species such as dormice and bats (European protected species) is known or suspected, careful timing of the works will be necessary to avoid causing disturbance during breeding cycles and hibernation periods. The timing will vary depending on species, habitat and the type of operation that is taking place.

We will consult with Natural England or other relevant bodies and employ the services of a suitably qualified ecologist where it is considered necessary to do so. However it must be noted that the City Council’s prime concern is the protection of human life.

Many of the tree management operations that take place in winter within the valley parks and public open spaces actually benefit other important ecological habitats. Scrub and tree removal to reduce shade on wildflower-rich grassland is essential for the continued presence of many rare wildflowers and invertebrates (especially bees and butterflies) that rely on them for both their nectar and as their caterpillar food source.

Tree management operations are also essential to help to remove less wildlife-friendly non-native trees which are often replaced with native trees that yield a much greater biodiversity value. These native trees have evolved to provide niche habitats for many of our invertebrates and so are much more valuable as a wildlife haven.