More than 800 trees planted at Horndean site where large oak tree chopped down in error as part of large-scale diseased ash tree felling
MORE than 800 trees have been replanted where a large oak tree was chopped down in error as part of a large-scale felling of ash trees at a popular nature reserve.
As reported last June, locals raised concerns after witnessing dozens of ash trees being felled at Catherington Lith Local Nature Reserve despite the bird nesting season being in full swing.
The drastic approach to remove up to 200 trees was taken due to fears ‘people could get killed’ by ‘spontaneously collapsing’ wood.
Horndean Parish Council, which manages the beauty spot, revealed it had to make the ‘tough decision’ to remove trees after most had become infected with a deadly disease known as ash dieback.
The work cost £29,000 with felling completed in July.
This week work has been in full swing to replant the woodland with a mix of native broadleaved trees to offset those removed.
Led by the parish council’s grounds manager Matthew Madill, socially-distanced volunteers helped out with replanting the trees on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
He said: ‘We were doing some tree planting after ash dieback tree clearance last year. We had groups of volunteers planting a mix of broadleaved trees and were just re-stocking the woodland. We want to preserve trees and want to preserve woodlands - that’s the biggest thing.
‘Sadly there was a disease that spread through all the ash trees which became dangerous and a public health issue because there’s so many public footpaths running through the site.
‘We are restocking the woodland to get it back to what it should be.’
Nearly 790 smaller trees were planted and 60 larger trees up to two metres high were planted in total with volunteers playing an important role.
‘We’ve had five different volunteers each day and have been trying to make it a community give-back. They can now watch the woodland grow and enjoy the area they live.
‘It’s been interesting with the pandemic over the last year...this has been our first volunteer session.
‘Early on we had to limit what we were doing and were only able to do essential works in line with government guidelines but as things started to relax we have been able to do more things and have carried on with the woodland management works.’
Lynn Evans, chairman of Horndean parish council, said of the felled trees last year: ‘We cannot guarantee if the trees are safe so have had to remove trees badly affected. We don’t want big lumps falling and people getting killed. We have to put public safety first.’
Commenting on the oak tree felled by a contractor, Ms Evans said: ‘It was felled in error. Everyone makes mistakes.’
Ash dieback, which was first noticed on the site four years ago, sees fungus growing inside the tree, eventually blocking its water transport systems before causing it to die - with trees becoming so brittle they collapse.
It is thought the disease could kill 95 per cent of UK ash trees.