A chainsaw massacre in Croydon has seen 2,600 trees chopped down in five years.

A new report compiled by the London Assembly's environment committee shows that during that period only 600 new trees were planted in the borough. The figures represents a six per cent loss of trees in the borough.

Although 40,000 trees have been lost across London, 48,000 have been planted. The loss of trees across the capital was blamed in part on insurance companies putting pressure on councils to remove trees whose roots pose a threat to the stability of buildings.

But a town hall spokesman said that every year between 500 and 600 trees which were owned and maintained by the council were lost because of disease, age, storm damage and vehicle damage and that the council replaces as many it could.

The spokesman added: "With limited funds it is not possible to replace every tree that is lost, although we do try to replace as many as we can and this year about 300 new trees have been planted."

Shasha Khan, of the Croydon Green Party, expressed his concern about the number of trees planted - and the loss of trees in redevelopments.

He said: "The local environment is much more pleasant with tree-lined streets which help to balance carbon emissions. We have national targets to reduce our carbon emissions under the Kyoto Agreement and one way to do this is plant more trees.

"In places like north Croydon where there are less green spaces, temperatures are higher because there is less absorption from trees. Whichever way we look at it, it is advantageous to plant more trees."

Further measures to protect trees were outlined in the London Assembly report. They included asking insurance companies to provide better investigations to avoid pointless subsidence claims.