TREES across the city were toppled in the fierce storms which lashed the country last winter – but now a massive programme is to be launched to bring back branches everywhere.
Hundreds of trees will be planted across the Capital in a bid to replace those blown down in gales or lost to Dutch elm disease.
And today, environment convener Lesley Hinds was marking the start of the scheme by planting the first of the trees in East Princes Street Gardens. More than 370 trees are to be planted across Edinburgh over the next few months as the council undertakes its biggest tree-planting programme in the city’s parks for years.
The combination of gales and disease has cost the Capital’s tree population dear.
In September last year, the tail-end of Hurricane Katia brought down trees, including one which fell on to two cars in Melville Terrace.
Storms in early January wreaked havoc in the city and brought down trees as wind speeds peaked at 102mph on Blackford Hill, the third-highest gusts ever recorded in Edinburgh.
The Royal Botanic Garden was left with a £1 million restoration bill after 35 trees – some up to 125 years old – were completely uprooted or destroyed by the winds and another 40 were damaged.
Around 800 cases of Dutch Elm disease have been reported in Edinburgh this year alone.
A mixture of native and non-native species will be planted in parks and greenspaces across the city.
Most will be young trees, between three and four metres tall, rather than saplings.
They will be protected with stakes and guards, which will be removed as the trees mature.
A total of 373 trees will be planted and the programme is expected to be completed by the end of February next year.
Councillor Hinds said: “Over the last few years high winds and Dutch Elm disease have taken their toll on Edinburgh’s tree stock and we recognise there is a need to ensure we have a healthy tree population for the future.
“This will provide a welcome boost to the city’s beautiful parks and green spaces, as well as improving the attractiveness of the local area.”
The council said the cost of the programme could not be confirmed because it was still going through the tender process.
Lothians Greens MSP Alison Johnstone welcomed the announcement She said: “Once we let gaps in the tree line appear, it’s just harder to catch up with the mature tree growth that’s there.
“Our parks are a hugely important part of what makes Edinburgh an attractive city.” But the Greens’ council group leader, Steve Burgess, questioned whether more could be done in the Capital in light of the Scottish Government’s overall target to plant 100 million trees by 2015.
He said: “In that context, this is a drop in the ocean.”
The trees will be planted
in almost 50 separate
locations in the city:
Dalmeny Street Park
Regent Road Gardens
Montgomery Street Park
Princes Street Gardens East
Muirhouse Linear Park
East Pilton Park
Joppa Quarry Park
Brunstane Mill Park
/ Bruntsfield Links
Seven Acre Park
Hermitage of Braid
Fernieside Recreation Ground
Ferniehill Community Park
St Margaret’s Park
King George V Park
Drum Brae Park
Davidson’s Mains Park
Ratho Flyover Park
Ratho Station Park
Hailes Quarry Park
Harrison Park East