Trees in Distress

At the Society's Speaker meeting on 24th April we welcomed Gareth Hare, the aboricultural officer from the Lichfield District Council. From the opening slide of his presentation, which showed a delightful picture of a Japanese Maple coming into leaf at Aston Park, to a slide showing a felled Brown Oak which had been attacked by Beefsteak Fungus, we were given a thorough introduction to the high and low moments of looking after trees - which is what an arboricultural officer does.

Statistics, maps, legal conundrums, strategies, budgets, pests and diseases, modern machinery, safety regulations, dangerous projects and protection of wildlife all contribute to the maintenance and replanting schemes which are being operated in our own woodlands, parks, towns and villages covering an area of 32,000 hectares [or 79,000 acres].

There are twenty Conservation Areas within the jurisdiction of Lichfield District Council, in which problems associated with housing developments can and do arise where valuable trees are seen as a pleasure or a pain by people with different philosophies.

Tree Preservation Orders are intended to protect trees whenever and wherever they are needlessly threatened. Tree planting schemes are initiated to ensure the continuation of the aesthetic features of our landscape by putting the right trees in the right places, particularly as little has been done over the past two hundred years to plant successors to the rather dark and gloomy Victorian designs.

Particular mention was made of the Boley Park and Festival gardens replanting, Trent Valley Road beech trees from 1750, a 200 year old oak tree in Colton, Drayton Manor Park renewals and problems in Burntwood on the St Matthews site.

"Shaggy Parasols" a lilac coloured fungus growing in Whittington Woods; polypores on the Friary Beech trees and, in Shenstone, a fungus that gives rise to "ceramic fracture" damage danger and a species of rust on old black pines are all causing problems in the area.

Pictures of red and fallow deer on Cannock Chase, muntjacs and grey squirrels reminders of the wildlife supported by woodlands, for better or worse confirming the wisdom of tree management for amenity and aesthetic reasons in spite of the vandals who all too often ruin what has been carefully planned and carried out for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

This presentation was indeed a timely education for many of us and we are indebted to Mr Hare for it.

Brenda Towlson
April, 2003