As Hackney celebrates yet more Green Flag Awards for parks trees in those very parks continue to die from damage and neglect.   As with so many bureaucratic, league table type systems Green Flag Awards have become a misleading indicator of 'success'.  True parks in Hackney have improved in many respects; new toilets, signs, benches, path surfacing, litter bins, etc.  The fact that these things have happened is in part due to Green Flag, or at least elected Councillors desire for such awards.  However, as so often these days, the success hides many problems.  Indeed since Hackney has so many Green Flag parks most Councillors and officers live in blissful ignorance of these problems.

As a tree enthusiast the chestnuts dying from mower damage and newly planted trees dying from neglect make me very sad and angry.  Victorian trees over 100 years old deserve much better than to be mowed and damaged during grass cutting or construction.  That they then die from disease 10 or 20 years later is a tragic subtlety lost on most, including apparently Green Flag judges. It is also a disgrace for which park managers and councillors should be ashamed.

Then take the little tree in this photo. A dead tree planted in Clissold Park. This tree died because no one bothered to water it after it was planted. A basic and simple task that when ignored is guaranteed to result in the wasted time, energy and money of planting the tree in the first place. Rocket science it ain't. But what is really shocking is that this tree was in Hackney's prestige Green Flag Clissold Park. Worse it was planted as a memorial for someone. Neglecting a memorial tree in your best park really shows all is not well.

But this little tree did not die alone. This tree was a replacement for another tree that also died. It too died because no one watered it. Shocked? Well what if I told you that tree was itself the 2nd, i.e. itself a replacement for an original tree that died, also of neglect. A dead tree that replaced a dead tree, that replaced a dead tree. And there are right now dead and dying trees in many, if not most of Hackneys major parks.

So yes we have lots of Green Flag parks. We also have lots of dead and dying trees. Old trees dying from damage and disregard, young trees dying for want of some water. Fortunately we also have dedicate tree carers (http://treemusketeers.org.uk/) who plant, protect and water trees in parks. Only we water what we plant. Sometimes we try and save those the Council neglects but we can't do it all on our own.

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