Woodland fury over Cumbernauld tree debris

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Questions are being asked about the approach taken by a Cumbernauld-based environmental organisation working in Cumbernauld woodland.

Cumbernauld Living Landscapes has joined forces with North Lanarkshire Council on what has been described as a woodland management project in key spots like Broadwood Loch and beyond.

The organisation which runs a number of voluntary projects across the town said that it is planting nearly 4,000 new trees and ‘‘thinning’’ areas of existing greenery to encourage a more diverse eco-system.

Yet a growing number of local organisations as well as individuals have expressed disquiet about their way of working.

Former Cumbernauld Development landscape boss Bobby Johnston from Cumbernauld Environmental Society said: “We know maintenance must take place and it is long overdue.

“We have no objection to the tree thinnning but we have been told on several occasions that they would be doing this when they are clearly felling the area.

“Evergreen trees along Cumbernauld form a natural sound barrier, create a natural fence and a visual screen - we feel that the works have gone too far because this is being taken away

“When we have questioned this we have been given several different answers.

“The forestry areas around Cumbernauld were planted as an amenity forestry - we are ordinary law-abiding people but we cannot sit back and let this happen.

“We owe it to the next generation to take a stand to protect our environment.”

To this end, Mr Johnston has invited the public to attend the society’s next meeting which will take place on Tuesday, November 26 at 7.15pm at the Cumbernauld campus of New College Lanarkshire.

However, the logistics of the operation itself would appear to be just one part of the problem - after this newspaper was inundated with complaints about the mess that contractors have left on key routes around town.

Billy Lees of Cumbernauld Community Forum said: “It’s unbelievable. The place was left in a terrible state. To me, it’s just deforestation.”

Barassie Crescent resident Anthony Keith Jones ,who provided this photograph, said: “The mess that the North Lanarkshire District Council contractors have left in Eastfield Road is a disgrace.

“Whether the trees were diseased or not, the land is cluttered with tree stumps, cut branches and twigs all over the embankment.”

However the contractors and the council insist the works are a force for good and have been misunderstood.

Both parties insisted that the move was necessary in Cumbernauld - and said that the failure to clear up debris was not an issue as the material would “degrade naturally.”

A council spokesperson said: “The trees have been removed to create a more sustainable and safer woodland and to improve biodiversity.

“The main purpose of the project is to address road safety concerns from trees encroaching on the roadside and obscuring lighting columns. The trees were part of a block of Sitka Spruce conifers, which are more prone to wind blow than other species

“This section of woodland will be re-planted with more broadleaf trees which are far more suitable for this location in respect to road safety. The site will re-vegetate during the next growing season and tree replanting will significantly improve the look of the site.”

Cumbernauld Living Landscape Project Manager Fiona McGrevey said: “Although Cumbernauld is a very green place, many of its woodlands are densely populated with non-native trees, which don’t provide the best homes for wildlife and in some areas are also vulnerable to storm damage.

“Seeing trees removed can be alarming, but this is only the beginning of this transformative process. In the coming weeks 3900 native trees will be planted in their place, creating a healthier, more natural woodland.”