Calls for tougher laws to protect trees in Jersey

Locals were left outraged after woodland was removed on private land on the edge of La Vallée des Vaux Credit: ITV Channel

Campaigners are urging Jersey Government to act quickly to introduce new laws to protect the island's trees.

Residents were left outraged after woodland was removed on private land on the edge of La Vallée des Vaux.

There have been similar complaints in recent years about mature trees being felled on La Route Orange, La Haule Hill and at the Wayside in St Brelade's Bay.

Woodland on private land was felled on the edge of La Vallée des Vaux Credit: ITV Channel

No planning permission is needed to remove trees on private land, unless an individual tree is on the protected list, of which there are currently 69.

According to the government, trees are protected where they have high amenity value and where they make a valuable and important contribution to the local environment.

Often trees become listed when they are under threat from a development proposal, but in many cases landowners are able to legally fell trees before submitting a planning application.

Environmental group, Trees For Life says the current law is inadequate.

We're seeing a lot of trees dying, four or five years after the development's been built because their roots have been damaged during the build process. If we manage to get the British laws brought over to Jersey if you had a swathe of woodland or some mature trees on your boundary you'd have to submit a free planning application to get approval to do work to them.

Anna Robertson, Trees for Life

Conservationists stress the importance of trees to biodiversity and the environment.

Trees stop soil erosion, they also acts as a shade and a water store. They also store carbon, so when young trees grow they sequester carbon and when they get to mature trees they're storing that carbon, so by cutting those trees down you're now releasing that carbon into the atmosphere.

Sheena Brockie, Sustainability Consultant

The government is currently working on new legislation which would provide greater protection for trees, which may require those removing trees to apply for a special permit.

The Environment Minister says the 'Tree Project' has been approved and allocated funding, but it may take up to a year to introduce.

In the interim, he says those removing trees could face prosecution for willfully destroying an animal habitat, under the recently passed Wildlife Law.

ITV News has learnt that the owner of the land in La Vallée des Vaux cleared the woodland after consultation with tree surgeons in order to restore the area to a private garden.

Seven and a half tons of fly-tipped litter along with invasive plant species are in the process of being removed.

Deputy Inna Gardiner has told ITV that discussions are underway for a portion of the land to be gifted to the Parish of St Helier to create a new public access point to La Vallée des Vaux.