Georgetown trees should be better managed if tragedy is to be avoided

Dear Editor,

 

I welcome Ian McDonald’s plea for new trees to be planted in Georgetown (Sunday Stabroek, June 18) but I would have liked him as influential as he is, to have gone a little further and made an even greater plea for the present population of trees to be better managed. Many of these trees have been in existence since my childhood, and that is well beyond the 60 years since Dr McDonald first came to Guyana. These trees are now aged and have grown in girth and size with canopies that are now, I believe, too heavy and expansive for their ancient roots. These ‘denizens’ of Georgetown beautify the city, particularly when in bloom and provide a welcome shade for both man and beast, but they have been falling over the past two decades or so and have damaged houses, pulled down power and telephone cables and have even fallen on vehicles, with aggrieved motorists getting little or no redress from the City Council. There was one such tree in Regent Street, in the mid to late ʼ90s, directly facing the Ministry of Agriculture, that had a grave-like mound extending from its base, which clearly were some of the roots emerging from beneath. Despite my bringing this to the attention of the relevant authority, the tree was left unattended and subsequently fell, luckily, along the parapet and not onto the road.

Another tree, again in the vicinity of the Mininstry of Agriculture, at the junction of Regent Street and Vlissengen Road fell a few years later, with no casualties as I can recall. And then there was the other tree on Vlissengen Road, just as one turned from South Road, and outside of the then Office of the President, which fell some 2-3 years ago, miraculously not injuring anyone but causing great inconvenience to traffic. The outrageous notices tacked to flamboyant trees along the western half of Carmichael Street, between New Market and Lamaha Streets, warned motorists that they parked at their own risk! And this within spitting distance of State House and bordering the avenue used by students of the nearby school and visitors to the private hospital, both on the opposite half of the street. And, dear readers, we are talking about tourism.

Recently there was a picture of a tree leaning across the canal between Croal Street and South Road, having been uprooted. These trees are large and top heavy, and when the rains come the roots cannot be restrained by the sodden earth, and the weight of the canopy under the influence of the wind, uproots these giants. And unless immediate action is taken tragedy, God forbid, is going to befall some unfortunate person.

The remedy to this unsatisfactory situation seems clear to me. It is disgraceful that no attention was paid to this potential threat to life, limb and property by the former government, but they did not care about Georgetown in any case. It now behoves the new administration to show some immediacy in this matter and combine the resources of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Mayor & City Council in having these trimmed, prioritising those that appear to be the oldest and with the largest canopies. So while the new trees are growing the old ones can still maintain the splendour of the city, but with a greater margin of safety.

For starters, the task force to be appointed can commence with the tree along the driveway to the house of the President. Although some work was done on this tree its canopy seems to be tilting towards the driveway. And the plot of land on which it stands should be regularly weeded if not landscaped, while the President is in residence there. As it stands it presents an unaesthetic appearance to the environs of the President’s dwelling.

 

Yours faithfully,

Lennox Applewhaite

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