2 months ago



44 EVERGREEN Autumn Leigh Woods is a 500-acre wilderness of tranquillity on the edge of Bristol overlooking Brunel’s famous suspension bridge. Tor Stanfield, area ranger for the National Trust for the past 14 years, was tasked in 2016-17 to manage a comprehensive survey of ancient and veteran oak trees. The majority are in Leigh Woods but she also surveyed those on other National Trust woodland sites in and around Bristol, including the Tyntesfield Estate, where beech, sweet chestnut and hybrids proliferate alongside the oak trees. The £25,000 project required Tor to inspect every tree in a portfolio of 1,000 ancient and veteran trees on the various woodland sites. She worked from early morning to late afternoon five days a week last summer, completing most of the inspections and recording data by early autumn. She’s now writing a 10-year tree management plan for the National Trust for their ancient and veteran trees in the area. She says: “Previously the different National Trust sites had individual management plans. Now we’ll have one plan covering all ancient and veteran trees.” Ancient trees are those that are very old for their species: some over 600 years old in the case of oak trees. The veterans at Leigh Woods are If you go down to around 400–500 the woods today years old and the predominant species are sessile and pedunculate oak. As part of the project 12 trees were cored: the resulting dendrochronology report will give a more accurate age to the trees and provide information such as when pollarding and grazing stopped in Leigh Woods. “Ancient trees might have rot holes on the trunk or they may be hollow in the middle. They’re likely to have missing branches and lots of dead wood, which makes them a fantastic habitat for invertebrates or in layman’s terms... bugs, plus birds and even bats. Veteran trees tend to have the same features.

2017 EVERGREEN 45 Tor — with an inquisitive friend — in the woods. “My job involved laying out a work programme at each location and producing management recommendations to cover the next 10 years at which time each tree will be reviewed and work will be recommended for the following 10 years. The daily routine involved taking a photograph of every tree in the portfolio, measuring it, and looking at the work done before on and around it. Often the most important aspect is what’s happening around a tree. “I used a software application similar to a GPS Data-Log so when I went to a tree its position was logged. Employing Tree Minder software from Pear Technology, I logged the relevant information about every tree in the database, before beginning to write the management plan. The fundamental rationale behind the management plan — as well as having a schedule of works for each tree — has been to underline the general principles of veteran tree management for the benefit of staff in National Trust properties around Bristol.” Tor’s plan has laid out a comprehensive picture of best practice in managing veteran trees. “Even though many members of staff are involved in managing trees, they don’t usually specialise in veterans and the management of these is very different from younger specimens. Our aim is to stop the

Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
Evergreen Autumn 2017 online
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