Tuesday, 6 December 2011

TUT, TUT...! Trees Under Threat!

They may have been condemned as diseased, dangerous and past their sell-by date - a bit like me and quite a few of my Budleigh Salterton neighbours I suppose - but the unexpected loss of those two magnificent 25-metre high Monterey pines on West Hill has saddened the town's tree lovers.

Surprisingly the two trees, situated between Woodlands and Sherbrook Hill, were not covered by a Tree Protection Order (TPO). But even if they had been their fate would have been sealed when one of the pines was discovered to have been attacked by the Sparassis fungus, better known as cauliflower mushroom, pictured above.  As the name implies, this parasitic fruiting growth is edible although it is usually eaten by squirrels rather than humans. But for pines like the West Hill specimens the fungus is usually fatal when it spreads into the roots. The second tree was apparently rotten within the trunk.

Lloyd Fursdon, of Knowle Tree Services, the firm which supervised the trees' removal estimates that the trees were 130 years old. "With 40 to 50 tons of timber involved there was a serious risk of damage to the neighbouring building had the trees been left. We definitely endorsed the findings of the original inspection. Unfortunately the row of evergreen oaks in front of the pines had to be felled to facilitate access for the crane."

Seven years ago, in the Town Design Statement produced with help from various organisations including Fairlynch Museum, the trees on the western approach to Budleigh Salterton from Exmouth were described as "forming a wonderful canopy all the way into town." 

But positive action is now being called for to safeguard this verdant heritage.

One of the recommendations of the TDS was that Budleigh Salterton Town Council should be encouraged to appoint a small team of Parish Tree Wardens to carry out a tree survey with a list of noteworthy and ancient trees to be preserved by possible TPO listing.

Above: the trunk measured over 5' in diameter.  On the left of the picture can be seen a stump of one of the line of evergreen oaks which unfortunately had to be felled along with the two Monterey pines.

However Budleigh Salterton Town Councillor Lynda Evans points out that many of these ancient trees are coming to the end of their natural life and many others are not being properly maintained.  "I've been concerned about the two Monterey pines on West Hill for a long time, and their removal was unavoidable", she said.

Earlier this year Cllr Evans, who acts as Budleigh's Tree Warden, expressed her concern at the number of trees being felled in the town and wondered if the Town Council should, in the future, be asking for replacements to be planted.

"We can't insist on it," she admits. "But we need to start planting for the generations to come."

Photo of Sparassis crispa (cauliflower mushroom) by Jean-Pol Grandmont

This post is linked from http://www.devonmuseums.net/TUT,-TUT!-%28Trees-under-Threat%29/Latest-News/4/

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