Disturbing trends in Kingston
The Editor, Sir:
As we commemorate Earth Day, I am taking the opportunity to express my concern about a growing trend in Kingston. The character of neighbourhoods is being changed as single-family dwellings are converted into apartments and town houses.
No doubt, this is seen by the authorities as an answer to the demand for housing. However, one has to wonder whether there is any policy guiding this change. Large trees are being cut down to be replaced by shrubs which provide no shade, no habitat for birds and reduced capacity for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Lawns and flower beds are being replaced by paved parking lots, causing more water to be dumped on to our streets. Perhaps more seriously, this water is not percolating into the soil and is lost to our aquifers. One wonders how this type of development fits into our climate-change and drought-management policies.
Even if we accept that this higher-density approach is necessary, there are ways of mitigating the effects. One could, for example, make it mandatory for a certain number of large trees to remain on the property. Parking areas should remain permeable. This can easily be achieved through the use of paving bricks instead of solid concrete or asphalt. As happens elsewhere in the world, all run-off should remain on the property; no run-off should be allowed on to streets. This would encourage maintaining permeable surfaces and assist aquifer recharge.
Regulations for trees
Tree-lined streets are a feature of many large cities. There should be an official programme of planting trees capable of providing shade throughout the city. Open spaces such as National Heroes Circle should be bordered by trees. This would help to offset the loss of trees to development.
These trees could be a fast-growing variety with economic value which could provide an income for communities. It really takes only a bit of thought and planning.
Why can't we do some simple things which can make a big difference? And please, let's not hear the "no money" excuse. We find the money to import the air conditioners and the oil needed to provide the electricity to run them. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to truck water during the various drought crises. Clearly, money is not the problem.
I am, etc.,
Dr BARBARA CARBY
Red Hills, St Andrew