LETTER: `Lumps of wood' that give our cities a soul

Sir: Surely Jane Jakeman's suggestion that our cities would be improved by having their trees removed is not serious ("A nation obsessed by large lumps of wood", 30 December). Imagine Berkeley Square or Birdcage Walk without trees.

But she is right to condemn our national obsession with the preservation of old trees. A tree has to be either expectionally beautiful, very famous or in some way irreplaceable to merit its life being extended beyond its healthy span. Our forefathers sawtrees as a crop to be harvested and replanted. Trees that were too old to use as timber became fuel.

If south-east England had more young and middle-aged trees and fewer superannuated ones, the 1987 hurricane would have beenless devastating. Ms Jakeman says: "A tree is a lump of wood." I say: "Plant more trees and use more wood."

Yours faithfully, ALICE RENTON Mount Harry Trees Offham, East Sussex 30 December

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