National Trust backs Forestry Commission’s Keep It Clean campaign

The Forestry Commission has called on visitors to woods and forests to help stop the spread of plant diseases.

The quango, which manages 900,000 hectares of woods and forests in England, has launched a new campaign, Keep It Clean. Bosses at the Commission are asking people to clean mud and leaves from boots, buggies and bikes before and after visiting woodlands.

Taking these small steps could help slash the risk of spreading damaging plant diseases like phytophthora ramorum, the Forestry Commission said.  Continue reading

UPDATE: Rangers begin clearing up after Storm Doris

National Trust rangers and gardeners have spent the morning cleaning up after Storm Doris forced more than fifty National Trust places to close yesterday.

The storm which saw up to 90mph gusting over the countryside toppled trees at the conservation charity’s gardens and parks across England – including a 200 year old oak tree on the historic Vyne estate in Hampshire.

Fifty one National Trust places took the decision to close to the public yesterday. They included Arlington Court in Devon and Kedleston Hall, near Derby.

Although the storm is predicted to blow itself out by the end of the week, people planning to visit their local National Trust property are urged to check www.nationaltrust.org.uk for any updates on continued closures

High winds brought down a 200 year old oak tree at The Vyne, Hampshire, yesterday afternoon. The Tudor estate had taken the precautionary step of closing to visitors.

At Bickerton Hill, Cheshire, rangers have spent the morning removing a large oak tree and smaller conifers that had smashed into the estate’s access road.

Jon Twigg, Area Ranger for the National Trust in Cheshire, said: “It will probably be next week before we know the full scale of the damage at our sites in the Wirral.”

Trees have also been toppled at Morden Hall Park, south London, Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, and Killerton, near Exeter.

And at Woolacombe, north Devon, the storms left jellyfish stranded on the beach.

Elsewhere the storms brought more welcome news. A rare breed lamb born last night at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, has been christened ‘Doris’ by rangers.

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Doris the lamb. Credit: National Trust

Andrew Cappell, a National Trust shepherd with 36 years’ experience, said: “Doris will be spending her first day in a pen so we can make sure she’s well, but then she’ll be out greeting visitors to Sutton Hoo over the next few weeks.

“I’ll be down at Sutton Hoo tomorrow morning to make sure she’s got a full belly. And if the weather’s fine we’ll introduce her to the rest of the flock.”

Hundreds of trees planted in 24 hours in bid to reduce Lake District flooding

Hundreds of trees will be planted across the Lake District today (Friday 10 February) in the first mass tree planting event ever attempted by the National Trust in the national park.

The trees will help reduce the impacts of future flooding and restore wood pasture habitats that have been lost, National Trust rangers say.

More than 90 people will plant a total of 1,400 trees at five sites in the Lake District National Park, including the shores of Lake Windermere and the approach to Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.

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Saplings planted in the shadow of flood damage in the Coledale valley, near Keswick. Credit: John Malley / National Trust

As they mature, it is expected that the trees will help to trap rainwater and mitigate the effects of flooding. In late 2015 Storm Desmond brought record rainfall to parts of the Lake District, with 34.1cm of rain falling on Honister Pass, Borrowdale, over just 24 hours. Storm Desmond left the National Trust facing a £1million clean-up bill.

Mike Innerdale, assistant director of operations for the National Trust, said: “This is a real community effort, with dozens of volunteers helping to plant trees – restoring important wood pasture habitats and slow the flow of storm water off the fells.

“The Lake District is visited by millions of people every year. But the recent floods show just how fragile a landscape it is.

“The 2015 floods caused millions of pounds worth of damage, leaving scars on the landscape that are yet to heal.

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Planting trees in Coledale, near Keswick. Credit: National Trust

“With major storms occurring more frequently, we’re working with farmers and local residents to look at ways of making the Lakes more resilient to flooding.”

At Braithwaite, near Keswick, rangers, residents and volunteers from the Woodland Trust will plant 500 native broadleaf trees over two hectares of pasture in the Coledale valley. In 2015 flooding caused a major landslide in the valley that lead to the village of Braithwaite being inundated with silt, boulders and other debris.

Emily Brooks, who lives in Braithwaite, said: “I’m really pleased to be planting trees above Braithwaite to help to reduce the impact that extreme rainfall has had on our village. It feels like important work now, to better protect our homes from future flooding.”

By planting the trees, Rangers and volunteers plan to restore areas of ancient woodland, create wood pasture and plant new hedgerows. These will offer a welcome home for birds like warblers, flycatchers and redstarts.

All of the 1,400 saplings that will be planted are native woodland species, including oak, birch, hazel, rowan and crab apple.

Telling tree stories

A new campaign launched today is calling on people to share their stories of why trees and woods matter to them.

Coppice and thicket scrub in the north east section of Hatfield Forest, Essex.

The history of Hatfield Forest in Essex dates back over a thousand years

The stories will be collected together in a Charter for Trees, Woods and People and published in November 2017, 800 years after the original Charter of the Forests was signed by Henry III, restoring people’s rights of access to the Royal Forests.

The National Trust is one of 43 organisations involved in the campaign, led by the Woodland Trust.

At a time of unprecedented pressures on trees and woods, the charter will record the relationships between people and trees, setting out the enormous benefits woods provide the UK economy and society.

As a national charity caring for 25,000 hectares of woodland and thousands of ancient and veteran trees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The National Trust has  seen first-hand the impact of climate change and diseases like Ash Dieback.

But we also know from the millions of visitors to our woods, parks and gardens every year that people feel a real love for trees – and are fascinated by the stories of trees like the Dorset sycamore under whose branches the Tolpuddle Martyrs reputedly met or the majestic 1,000 year old Quarry Oak at Croft Castle in Herefordshire.

Ashridge Estate, credit National Trust Images, Michael Caldwell

Ashridge is the Chilterns comes live with the autumn colour every year and its one of the best National Trust places for ancient trees

Ray Hawes, Head of Forestry at the National Trust, says: “How people value trees and woods is changing”, he says. “In the past they were valued mainly for the tangible products they provided, like timber and fuel.

“Today, many people say they love trees. Millions of people enjoy visiting woods in the UK without always realising the wider contributions that these places make to society as a whole and what needs to be done to maintain woods for future generations.

“Healthy woods have many uses and can be adapted to changing needs, but there are increasing challenges to maintain them in a condition which will enable this.”

By encouraging people to share why trees matter to them, the campaign launched today aims to capture the value of trees to people’s lives – as well as connecting people to the work that goes in to keeping our trees and woods healthy.

The campaign will recruit a network of local ‘Charter Champions’ from across the UK to represent their communities in the development of the charter. Funding will be available to help local groups in events and projects aimed at reconnecting people and trees.

 

Custodians of living history

The Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Specialist, Jill Butler, writes about her favourite National Trust trees and the threats facing the UK’s historic trees.

“As a tree archaeologist, I don’t find it very surprising that the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland is one of the major custodians of ancient and other veteran trees.

The ancient Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede in Surrey. Credit John Miller

The ancient Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede in Surrey. Credit John Miller

“One of the most special on my list would be the Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede in Surrey. It is thought to be the location where King John, almost 800 years to the day, sealed the Magna Carta. Yews, which can live such long lives, were often used to distinguish burial or religious sites or venues for special occasions.

“The National Trust’s Ankerwycke Yew, Shugborough Yew and Newton’s Apple Tree were, quite rightly, shortlisted in this year’s Tree of the Year competition for England run by the Woodland Trust. The Woodland Trust believes that these, along with other National Trust trees like the Tolpuddle Martyr’s Sycamore, should be on a Register of Trees of National Special Interest. This would be a means of giving top recognition to the part they play in our history and landscape, as we do for many other national assets.

Continue reading

New life for fallen trees

Head Ranger on the Trelissick Estate, Neil Stevenson, tells us how the trees uprooted by this winter’s storms are being used both on and off-site

Like many parts of the South West, the Trelissick estate sustained considerable damage during this winter’s stormy weather. Heavy rain and flooding caused problems, but the greatest damage was brought about by the strong, gusty winds.

We lost a lot of trees, including several veterans in the park and woodland. One was a very important lime tree in front of Trelissick house and there were two large Scots pines from around the woodland walk and the banks of the river Fal.

Fallen tree in front of Trelissick House

We’ve always used wood and timber from the estate and wind-blown trees of certain species can be utilised for this reason. However there are a lot of considerations such as timber quality, accessibility and conservation value that we have to take into account.

Continue reading

Trust tree losses biggest in two decades

New research has revealed that some of the country’s favourite woodland places have seen their biggest loss of trees in a generation as a result of the extreme winter weather.

A 600 year-old oak tree which has come down at Woolbeding in Sussex

A 600 year-old oak tree which has come down at Woolbeding in Sussecx

More than 50 National Trust sites have been surveyed with many gardeners, rangers and foresters saying that the losses of trees has been the greatest in more than two decades and in some cases the Great Storm of October 1987.

High winds and extreme weather throughout the winter have seen some places lose hundreds of trees, including many valued ancient trees.

The National Trust cares for 25,000 hectares (61,776 acres) of woodland across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It looks after many world famous trees including Newton’s Apple Tree at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire and the tree at Runnymede in Surrey where the Magna Carta was signed.

Many of the trees that have been lost have blown over rather than snapped off due to the saturated ground conditions. However the big picture varies, with some places seeing little damage, and unlike the storms of 1987 and 1990, nowhere has been devastated.

Matthew Oates, National Trust Specialist on Nature & Wildlife, said: “People love and need trees, and the loss of specimen trees in gardens and parks, and of ancient beeches and oaks in the woods and wider countryside hurts us all, and damages much wildlife. We value and venerate these old sentinels and need to become increasingly aware of the power of the weather.

“Increased storminess, and increased extreme weather events generally, are likely to stress trees further, especially veteran trees. We will have to think carefully about where we establish trees and what species we plant.”

The Killerton Estate in Devon has suffered some of the biggest losses, with more than 500 trees blown over by the storms, including 20 significant trees within the design landscape.

Many other specimen trees in gardens and parks have been blown over or badly damaged, particularly in South West England and in Wales. However many gardens outside the West have also suffered, such as Tatton Park, south of Manchester, Attingham Park near Shrewsbury, Nymans in Sussex and Scotney Castle in Kent.

A few historically or regionally important trees have been lost, such as a rare black walnut at Hatfield Forest, which was the largest in Essex.

Sometimes ‘wind blow’ in woods presents a good opportunity for natural recolonisation by pioneer species such as ash and sallows.

This 200 year old oak tree came down at Stourhead in Wiltshire on Valentine's Day

This 200 year old oak tree came down at Stourhead in Wiltshire on Valentine’s Day

Alan Power, Head Gardener at Stourhead in Wiltshire, said: “Over the past three or four weeks we’ve lost 20 trees in the garden, with up to 400 across the wider estate.

“We’ve lost one spectacular oak tree, which could well be between two hundred and two hundred and fifty years old and planted by the man who created the landscape garden at Stourhead.

“Storms like we’ve seen this winter are all part of the estate’s history. If people can come along and they do see the trees on the ground they’ll realise it’s not just a one off, it happens throughout the history of the estate and it is part of working so closely with nature.”

Matthew Oates added: “As people venture out this spring, they will still be able to see these fantastic places, but a few old friends may be missing or lying down providing interesting wildlife habitats.

“Our teams are working hard to keep access to our gardens and parkland open by clearing any fallen trees from footpaths.”

Examples of tree losses across National Trust places:

Trengwainton Garden in Cornwall – Around 30 trees have been lost, namely from the shelterbelt that surrounds the garden. To date, more than 1000 hours have been spent clearing up the storm damage, with more work still required.

Trelissick in Cornwall –Lost three old lime trees, several mature oak and two very large scots pine in the park
Stourhead in Wiltshire – Up to 400 trees lost across the wider estate, including a 200-year-old oak.

Mottisfont and New Forest in Hampshire – There has been a loss of up to 300 trees across three main areas of wind-blown woodland. In addition to this there have been a number of scattered trees across roads and rivers.

Selborne and Ludshott Commons in Hampshire – Lost around 300 trees, which will require three months clean-up work.

Ashridge in Hertfordshire – Full details not yet known, but a number of ancient and veteran trees have been lost, including a large ash and five pollards in Frisden beeches and in excess of 100 birch trees.

Croft Castle and Parkland in Herefordshire – Lost around 40 trees including a chestnut from the chestnut avenue.

Osterley Park in Middlesex – Lost three 250-300 year old English oaks, two 150 year old cedar of Lebanon and a 100 year old sycamore

Hatfield Forest in Essex – Lost 18th century black walnut and 250 year old oak along with a lot of superficial damage to trees and some structural damage to pollards

Penbryn in Ceredigion – Lost a 5.2m girth ash, which is an exceptionally old ash tree

Castle Ward in County Down – Up to 70 trees have come down over the last few months as a result of the strong winds, including 8 significant trees.