Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Heatwave Is Killing off Capital's Trees

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Heatwave Is Killing off Capital's Trees

Article excerpt


THE heatwave is killing London's trees.

Experts say species that cannot cope without so little water have already started to die off.

Many more will expire by the end of summer.

At Kew Gardens, gardeners have reported that beech, birch, rowan and magnolia trees have died. Horse chestnut and maples are also at risk.

Tony Kirkham, head of the arboretum at Kew, said the problem is the cumulative effect of three hot summers and three winters with too little rain drying out the ground.

In addition, the trees are being scorched by unusually high temperatures - this month is on course to be the hottest July on record.

Mr Kirkham said: "We have trees dying at Kew and when you drive around streets and roads in neighbouring boroughs such as Richmond you can see more trees dying.

"A lot of them are suffering from drought stress. They are tired and not able to get water from the ground because there isn't any.

"They are starting to lose their leaves already. It is far too early for that to start happening - you can get away with it at the end of August but we are only in July. We will see a lot of trees die this summer."

Another downside to the hot weather is the threat to the stability of homes.

Experts predict a dramatic increase in the number of homes affected by subsidence, with a subsequent rise in insurance claims.

Subsidence is caused mainly by clay subsoils under a building drying out during prolonged periods of hot, dry weather.

London's worst areas for subsidence include South Norwood, Forest Hill, Mottingham, Eltham and Camberwell.

Chartered surveyor Roy Ilott warned that even previously underpinned houses were no longer safe. He said: "We have had several very dry years, particularly in London and the South-East.

"The water table has dropped and there is a severe shortage of ground water. …

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