Local landscape architect, Michael Felton, is calling on the States of Jersey to introduce better measures to tackle pressures on rural green spaces and to improve overall landscape quality in the island.
Recent research, published in Nature Climate Change, has shown that since 2005 the amount of C02 absorbed by Europe’s trees has declined, primarily due to a reduced volume of trees resulting from deforestation and the impact of natural disturbances.
‘This recent research is worrying and isn’t something we should ignore,’ said Mr Felton. ‘Landscape quality is hugely undervalued in Jersey. A lack of commercial forestry opportunities and continued pressure on green spaces for development has significantly reduced tree planting opportunities in the island. This, as with our European neighbours, will be steadily reducing our trees’ ability to absorb CO2.’
The research, which has been co-authored by Gert-Jan Nabours of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, explains that European forests are showing signs of reaching ‘carbon saturation point’. The research also focuses on how the natural CO2 absorption of trees is also affected by the age of forests.
‘Many trees in Jersey and throughout Europe are reaching an age where growth, and carbon uptake, slows down,’ added Mr Felton. ‘It’s never been more important to plant trees in gardens, streets and parks. We need to introduce better planning and management of our green areas to encourage more people to take action.
‘Rising population demands continue to put pressure on Jersey’s rural green spaces, making it hard to implement large-scale replanting schemes. The subsequent increase in harmful emissions from cars and commercial vehicles is also an issue, with organisations such as Jersey Trees for Life and the National Trust implementing a number of initiatives for hedgerow and tree planting to alleviate concerns.’
Despite this, Mr Felton believes that the reintroduction of the Cheap Tree Scheme for islanders, along with better planning and financial support for land regeneration initiatives would contribute to a general increase in landscape quality in Jersey. ‘The Cheap Tree Scheme was a States subsidised scheme that allowed islanders to buy tree saplings at a reduced cost. By reintroducing these types of schemes, the States would not only be addressing an environmental issue but also helping to create and sustain quality green landscapes to be enjoyed by all islanders.’
Michael Felton was appointed chairman of the landscape committee for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust from 1985-1990 and has also been an adviser and committee member of the Jersey Association of the Men of the Trees, (now ‘Jersey Trees for Life’) for 30 years and was chairman between 1991 and 1994. In 1978 Mr Felton established Michael Felton Ltd, a practice that has evolved from single practitioner into a team of experienced and qualified, award winning landscape architects.