Welcome to the LTOA website. The London Tree Officers Association (LTOA) constitutes the professional & technical voice for London's trees & woodlands. Its aim is to enhance the management of the Capital's trees.
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A worrying disease that attacks the capital’s most iconic tree has been confirmed in London. The disease, Massaria (Splanchnonema platani), was previously found only in Germany and Holland but has now been discovered in the UK. The disease affects London Plane trees (Platanus ‘x’ hispanica). Whilst London Planes are not native trees as they were introduced to the UK over 300 years ago, they now form an integral part of London’s landscape. The tree was such a significant feature of the capital that it became know as ‘London’ Plane. These are some of the tallest of the capital’s trees and one of the most planted.
This picture shows an example of an infected branch. The top half of the branch shows the decayed deadwood due to the Massaria infection and the bottom half shows live wood.
London Planes are notoriously disease tolerant; have very few current threats from pests and disease; and are very resilient to changes in environmental conditions. The discovery of the Massaria fungi in the UK poses a real threat to this tree species in England’s capital and presents a huge problem for the specialists that manage them. This fungi can rapidly decay branches, making them liable to fall. It was originally only thought to affect unhealthy trees but has now been found on healthy trees as well.
As it was first identified in Europe during 2003, there is very little known about how the disease spreads. Once the disease has been confirmed, the only solution is to remove any branches that show signs of the infection to prevent the them from failing. This unfortunate branch removal could lead to the disfiguration of many beautiful trees. Currently, there has been no need to remove any entire trees. Due to the speed that the disease decays branches, some Local Authorities are changing their inspection programs for all London Plane trees in high risk areas. At a time when councils are having to find significant cuts this disease demands that Tree Officers undertake more inspections and pruning work that will compound the financial problems for tree managers.
Branching Out: The future for London’s street trees by the London Assembly Environment Committee was released on 19 April 2011. This is the Committee’s update investigation into the future for London’s street trees.
It all started back in September 2010 talking to Mike Connick (Connick Tree Care) at the AA Conference in Manchester. There he was bedecked in his orange Chicago Tour de Trees t-shirt and I found myself asking the obvious question “Oh, you did the Tour then?” With the answer in the affirmative, a light-bulb flashed in my head and I sparked back with “We could do a mini-version here?” And so Ride for Research (RfR) was born. To give us a flying start, after a brief chat Dr David Lonsdale, who was stood just 4m away, the idea of raising research funds for Acute Oak Decline (AOD) was identified as the key focus. And even better, later that day, as news got around, fifteen riders were signed-up and free trees were secured from Barcham Trees.
At this stage, readers may ask why the new name? Simples! As Tour de Trees is an established international event, firmly associated with the main annual ISA Conference, we needed to draw a distinction between the two. To this end, a fresh new logo was designed to give RfR this distinct identity.
Money to plant and maintain street trees across London could be under threat because of council budget cuts, the London Assembly heard today.
The Assembly’s Environment Committee heard the Mayor’s street tree scheme was on target to deliver 9,500 new trees by Spring 2011 but there are concerns about ongoing maintenance costs for local authorities beyond the three year funding it offers.
Jim Smith, of the Forestry Commission, told the Committee that tree planting and maintenance budgets are often an easy target at times of financial pressure.
“The challenges local authorities face in the future will have an impact on tree management budgets,” he warned.
Mr Smith said the Committee’s previous report on street trees, which revealed that up to 2,000 had been lost within five years in the capital due to subsidence claims, had successfully highlighted the importance of maintaining London’s large trees.
He said so far eight London boroughs had signed up to a pilot scheme which sets out a standard process for dealing with subsidence claims, including suggesting pruning trees instead of felling them[ However, the Committee heard some councils were still reluctant to share data on street trees.
Chair of the Environment Committee, Darren Johnson AM, said: “London’s great trees play an important role in making London a more pleasant place to live. It is encouraging that people have taken on board some of the recommendations of our previous report.
"However we still face challenges in understanding how many street trees there are in London and it is clear there are now very real concerns about whether the capital’s trees could fall victim to budget cuts in the current financial climate.”