Work to clear vegetation from a nature reserve could go against the council’s plans to tackle climate change, opposition councillors have claimed.

The Liberal Democrat group says residents have raised concerns that work to fell dozens of trees and clear vegetation from Parkland Walk in Haringey went too far and was poorly managed.

Haringey Council told contractors to remove the trees as part of £3.6 million repairs after engineers warned their roots were affecting the structural safety of bridges spanning the three-mile route between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. The council says the work was “unavoidable”.

Pathside vegetation was also cut back further than usual to allow people to socially distance when using the walk, in line with coronavirus regulations.

Cllr Scott Emery (Lib Dem, Muswell Hill) said: “Muswell Hill councillors agree with residents’ concerns: the clearance was too aggressive and the loss of trees and vegetation will harm the local ecosystem and go against the council’s climate change plans.

“We will work with officers to improve the current situation, and hopefully we will be able to find locations to replant lost trees.

“It is clear that there was an issue with management on this job, and in future we will push for more on-site management from the parks team.”

The opposition group said the council had agreed to work with concerned groups to find a way forward and committed to undertaking future works themselves, rather than paying private contractors.

Parkland Walk, which follows the route of a former railway line, is London’s longest nature reserve and home to a range of wildlife.

Haringey Council said it would be able to plant a small number of trees at key locations to partly make up for the removals, but other than that most of the walk is “closed-canopy”, meaning there is no room for further planting.

No trees will be planted on or within five metres of the bridges in future, the local authority added.

In December, the council announced it was scaling up “the biggest Haringey tree-planting programme in more than a decade”, with around 800 trees being planted across the borough.

A Haringey Council spokesperson said: “We fully appreciate and understand residents’ concerns over the removal of trees and vegetation from bridge structures along Parkland Walk and the decision is never taken lightly, but such action is regrettably unavoidable in this instance.

“We do need to ensure that the bridge repairs are sufficiently robust to last for the medium-to-long term in the circumstances and avoid further deterioration.

“We’re continuing to engage with local campaigners, the Friends, residents and other associated stakeholders. We have listened to their concerns and have amended our plans accordingly. We will endeavour to ensure that any trees that can still be retained, will be.”

More information on the vegetation reductions in Parkland Walk is available here.