Letter: Save big cedar on 1st Street in Duncan

The cedar on First has already been topped so there is no chance of it blowing over

Save big cedar on 1st Street in Duncan

On my way to the airport to catch a flight to San Miguel last week I received some disturbing news. The caller said that the giant cedar on First Street near Jubilee was going to be cut down as the developer’s arborist claims it’s hollow inside. The new tree bylaw allows for large trees to be removed if they are considered hazardous.

If in fact it is actually hollow, I don’t believe that necessarily constitutes a danger. The lifeblood of a tree flows through the cambium which is in the outside layer just inside the bark.

Bamboo,which can be stronger than steel, is hollow. In many parts of the world bamboo is used for scaffolding for tall building construction. One of the largest trees in Western Australia is the red tingle. The inside of these trees is more flammable than the outside and after a forest fire all that often remains is the shell of the trunk plus the canopy. I went inside one that resembled a cathedral with a black, vaulted ceiling. They continue to thrive for decades.

The cedar on First has already been topped so there is no chance of it blowing over. It will just require selective pruning periodically to manage the weight on the lateral limbs.

Before developers start to build they like a clean slate. All vegetation and soil are removed. When the building nears completion, if you are curious as to where the gardens will go, just watch where all the construction rubble gets dumped. That will be the garden. I’ve observed this numerous times and once again after the condo was built on Second Street a few years ago. The landscaper was planting maple trees directly on top of chunks of asphalt and concrete in about 10 inches of soil. After taking photos I questioned whether he felt those trees would prosper. He seemed perplexed and insulted that I would question his planting technique. He thought briefly, smiled and then cordially replied. “Don’t worry sir, I’m only planting trees with short roots.” According to Peter Dinter, on his CBC gardening program, the average lifespan for newly planted trees in harsh urban environments is eight years.

The elderly are very vulnerable in our culture. Be it trees, buildings or people. The future of this magnificent arboreal giant should be respectfully safeguarded. Alas, I fear that it will be gone by the time I return to Duncan. I already feel sadness and shame.

Alan Shivas