Prince Charles criticises housing developers for abandoning trees to die

The Prince of Wales has warned too many housing developers plant trees as a last-minute attempt to make their projects “look attractive”, before abandoning them to die off of neglect.

The Prince, writing in Country Life magazine, lamented the developers and road builders who failed to manage planting schemes to maturity.

Singing the praises of planting trees and hedges, he said: “Sadly, I have come across too many big planting schemes initiated, albeit in good faith, by agencies or housing developers that forget the final stage and, therefore, do little to increase the number of trees.

“The last thing developers often do to make a new housing scheme look attractive is pepper its new streets with young trees, but then they leave the site and the trees are forgotten.

“The same can happen when a major road-building project is completed. Trees are deployed as landscaping, yet never tended again, with the result that millions may have been planted, but many quickly die through neglect, a lack of watering, weeding or such like. 

“To succeed, any tree-planting scheme must be carefully managed all the way to maturity.”

In an article for Country Life to mark his 73rd birthday on Sunday, the Prince highlighted the environmental importance of hedgerows as “the country’s single biggest nature reserve”.

He has planted more than 15 miles of hedgerows at Highgrove over the years, saying the prickly process leaves him “looking as if I have just come off the field at Agincourt”.

Suggesting trees could now be planted in memory of victims of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Prince wrote: “I have always felt that avenues are a wonderful enhancement to the landscape and give great pleasure to so many people, as well as providing another way of planting more trees in general.

“Over the past two years of this dreadful pandemic, I have also felt that commemorating all those who have so tragically died through planting avenues in their memory in different parts of the country, whether in towns, cities or the countryside, might be something worth considering.”

The Prince said the Duchy of Cornwall was planning to celebrate his son the Duke of Cambridge’s 40th birthday next year with the planting of tree avenues.

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