POLL: City decries arborists’ fig risk critique

THE Laman Street figs debate has reared its head again after the International Society of Arboriculture published an article criticising the risk assessment used to remove the trees.

But Newcastle City Council has objected to the peer-reviewed article, accusing the authors of ‘‘a large number of errors’’ and asking for a letter to be published in response.

The article by Mark Stewart, Dealga O’Callaghan and Mark Hartley was published in the July edition of the Arboriculture and Urban Forestry journal.

News of the council’s concern over the article coincides with this week’s reopening of a remodelled Laman Street.

Written over seven pages of dense academic text, the article says that despite the ‘‘elevated media coverage of tree-caused injuries or fatalities ... the risk of being killed or injured by a tree is extremely low’’.

It said an assessment used by Newcastle council put the risk of harm at one in 19.8per tree per year.

This meant a single Laman Street fig tree was ten times more dangerous than smoking 10 cigarettes a day, 10 times more dangerous than World War II, 75 times more dangerous than mountain climbing and 75,000 times more dangerous than trees in public places in the United Kingdom.

A later study put the risk of harm at one in 170,000 for the worst tree.

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