BUDDING volunteer tree wardens are being sought by Falmouth Town Council after it agreed to create a community network to act as its "eyes and ears".

At a meeting of the town council on Monday night, Cllr Alan Rowe proposed that it creates the network of community tree wardens to work with the public, the town council and Cornwall Council.

He said trees were crucial in helping the town become carbon neutral and at the moment Cornwall Council was too slow in acting to protect trees.

He gave a recent example of when councillors were contacted in July by concerned members of the public over the felling of a prominent line of trees by a contractor at Ponsharden. It was realised that the trees were not covered by Tree Protection Orders (TPO) and when they approached Cornwall Council were told to fill in a form which would take up to eight weeks to process.

"The TPO was actually served four and a half months later," said Cllr Rowe. "If it were not for the actions of the Forestry Commission who responded immediately to the issue the whole line of trees would have been lost.

"This process is leading to tree losses and once lost they are lost for good. It cannot be rebuilt or returned to its former use in the same way buildings can be in the same way. It shows a complete lack of understanding from Cornwall Council.

"We are in the most intense period of development the Duchy has ever experienced and pressure on trees has never been higher and their protection has never been more important."

He said the volunteers would be trained in-house and empowered to allow them to make Tree Preservation Order (TPO) assessments and to flag enforcement issues to Cornwall Council. This will enable the creation of accurate TPO maps and pro-forma so that completed documentation can be passed to Cornwall Council saving administrative and processing delays when time is of the essence.

He said the training would be carried out by him and Cllr Debra Clegg and would cost around £30 per volunteer for equipment.

Councillors voted to endorse the motion.