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Tuesday, 26 April 2016


These newly planted trees are by the river in the Forest of Bowland. Not sure what to make of it really but it is very similar to many such tree planting schemes taking place everywhere. The other photo is of a similar blizzard of trees by the beck near Wycoller, planted amongst lovely wild flower riparian habitat.
One needs to ask what is the point of all these cheek by jowl trees; is there a management plan or a purpose in mind. As far as this scheme by the Hodder, I would guess there are upwards of 500 saplings planted in a small area that would support perhaps 30 mature trees to leave the necessary space for flora and understory.

It may be that 470 of these saplings will be coppiced as time goes on. But even that would be an excessive amount of coppice for a small area and the multi-stemmed stools would impinge on each other with no room for anyone to stand up, never mind wield a billhook. It will be interesting to see how it develops. Look at the attractive mature tree in the background; will any of these saplings ever provide a future replacement?

I have come across many such plantations before and it is never a pleasant experience. Umpteen years on the forgotten saplings have grown like tall matchsticks; the previous ground flora extinct because of the deep shade.

But worse than all that is the waste of time, because if the matchsticks are belatedly thinned out, the remainder bow to the ground in shame. All that can then be done is cut the lot down, throw all the supposedly bio-degradeable plastic tubes in the waste skip and start again.

Blizzards of trees don't make a woodland; space them out and you can have characterful trees with branches, as well as a ground flora. Also don't forget to create new pollards--these are the trees that have the potential to remain for centuries--long after the others have gone out of memory.
The old motto is wrong; it should read "You can't see the trees for the wood".
                                               By the Hodder
Wycoller Beck   



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  2. Good points Phillip.

    It would be good if all the various tree planting organisations saw your post.
    Then we might get a debate going about best practice.
    Personally I'm all for fencing off areas securely from grazing animals, and patiently waiting for the jays to plant the acorns, the brambles to shade out the turf (allowing Elder, Ash and Mountain Ash to germinate).
    I am unusual in that I like Sycamores. They eventually make a beautiful spreading tree - if growing in the open. Oaks make fabulous natural "climbing trees" for kids (and big kids!) if grown singly in an open space.

  3. A mature sycamore is a fine tree. I have a particular fondness for one near the 'Hole in the Wall' car park at Bolton Abbey.

  4. Totally agree - absolutely unnecessary to overplant like this as no-one never seem to return to thin them out.
    Similar areas in Crimsworth Dean seem to attract breeding Redpolls in the early stages but only for a short number of years then that's it, everything else is crowded out.