Derby City Council’s boundaries cover a variety of green spaces. However, when nature and industry collide, how do we protect nature from being harmed?

The Council’s Arboricultural Officers have been busy recently preserving the life of a Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus deodara) tree on the doorstep of the A52.

As part of a project to build a new gantry on Nottingham Road leading into the city centre, the cedar has been meticulously cared for and moved to a new position on the green. This aims to preserve its roots and ensure it has a long and healthy life.

Building a new gantry

In 2015, the gantry was damaged by an oncoming vehicle, and a range of long-term repairs being considered and explored. A decision was made to build a new gantry that would be safe from collisions, and work began early this year.

When the team began excavating the site to make room for the gantry’s base, Root Protection Zones and Tree Protection Areas were set up. This was to prevent any damage to the trees and their roots while work was carried out.

The site of the excavation is quite tight for space, with the A601 St Alkmund’s Way on one side and Nottingham Road on the other. It also lies on the line of the former Derby Canal, close to the old canal basin.

The team discovered a few surprises under the ground – from the remains of an old canal wall and the old ‘Pegg’s Bridge’ to unchartered electrical cables and a gravestone dated 1916. This prevented them reaching the required depth to support the excavation and enable the base of the new gantry to be constructed. After exploring all options, the team realised that the cedar tree was in a difficult position, and could delay them from continuing the work.

How we cared for the treeTeam trees - the transplanted cedar

The team decided that the cedar – planted in 2009 – could not be outright cut down to make way for the new gantry. Furthermore, if it was left in its original place when work began, the roots would have suffered considerable damage. This would most likely have resulted in the complete death or significant decline in the condition of the tree, or caused it to become unstable.

In order to give the young tree a greater chance of survival, the Arboricultural team arranged for expert tree transplanting machinery (a ‘tree spade’) to relocate it.

The tree was transplanted 10 metres from the excavation site on Wednesday 28th March, with an irrigation tube provided for watering to help the tree to re-establish itself.

What happens next?

Relocating the tree has preserved it as a natural asset for the city, and has crucially allowed the works to progress. The concrete for the new base has been poured, and the contractors will return soon to construct the new gantry on the base once it has cured.

This key piece of work has prevented the loss of a tree that, when mature, will dominant the landscape, becoming a significant feature for residents of or visitors to the city to enjoy for many years.

The Arboricultural team will continue to water the tree and provide mulch to help ease the shock to its root system. Trees are dynamic and complex organisms, so the tree will require close monitoring over the next four to six months. This is normally when they would expect to see signs that the transplanting has not been successful. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for some good progress!

Derby City Council is committed to working closely with clients and the general public to ensure that our trees continue to thrive.


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