The Royal Parks has defended its pruning regime of Richmond Park trees after criticism from an independent arborist.

The charity said its management teams were “highly regarded experts” who “love and care for the trees” in response to claims that trees in the park are being “ruthlessly” pruned.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

Their comments come in the wake of a petition from professional arboriculturist and tree officer, Tom Roser.

In an open letter to the Royal Parks, he wrote: "In my professional opinion a number of trees in Richmond Park appear to have been subjected by The Royal Parks to a ruthless pruning regime.

“This appears to me to have resulted in a number of trees either dying or suffering a great deal of harm directly as a result of the works carried out," he wrote.

However, the Royal Parks have refuted all claims of damage to trees.

A spokesperson said: “The Royal Parks is aware that an arborist – Mr Tom Roser – has been circulating a document to local residents as well as establishing a petition and fundraising campaign relating to his opinions about how the trees are managed in Richmond Park.

The Royal Parks strongly refute the conclusions that Mr Roser puts forward. The Royal Parks has answered all of his points individually on more than one occasion, responded to a series of his requests made under the Freedom of Information Act at significant expense to The Royal Parks Charity and last year met with Mr Roser to discuss his views. Regrettably we could not agree with his views and he has persisted with his campaign.”

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Richmond Park's trees have been the subject of a film with Clare Balding. (Image: Royal Parks)Richmond Park's trees have been the subject of a film with Clare Balding. (Image: Royal Parks)

Richmond Park Richmond Park is home to around 1,200 ancient trees, some of which pre-date the park's enclosure.

The old English Oaks were traditionally managed by pollarding - a way of cutting back the crown of the tree above the reach of the deer to stimulate the growth of foliage and timber for harvesting.

The Royal Parks added that pruning decisions take into account increasing threats from pests and diseases.

A spokesperson added: “Our management teams are professional, dedicated and highly regarded experts in their field who love and care for the trees of Richmond Park with many decades of collective professional experience.

“Our actions take into account the full health and structure of the tree and its surroundings, increasing visitor numbers and a risk management assessment. Decisions are also taken in the context of the increasing pressures from tree pests and diseases and the emerging impacts of more extreme and increasingly unpredictable climate conditions.

“In addition, the team regularly use independent consultants and specialists to provide independent advice and verify decisions. We abide by all the current British Standards for tree and specialist veteran tree management methodologies.”