Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 13°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: One of county’s tallest oaks to be felled after deadly disease strikes

12:00 29 December 2012

Lord Cranbrook with some of the trees affected by Acute Oak Decline in their estate.

Lord Cranbrook with some of the trees affected by Acute Oak Decline in their estate.

Archant

ONE of the tallest oaks in Suffolk will be cut down after falling victim to a deadly tree disease.

shares

Acute oak decline (AOD), which experts fear could be as devastating as chalara dieback of ash and Dutch elm disease, have been reported across the country, with a concentration of cases in Suffolk and north Essex.

Now landowners in east Suffolk have said they have no choice but to chop down an historic oak, which stands over a footpath, after the disease reduced its crown to 30 tonnes of dead wood.

They claim the death of the tree – one of nine so-called Crabbe oaks, said to be standing when the poet and clergyman George Crabbe lived in the area – signifies the deep cultural impact the disease could have on the Suffolk landscape.

Jason Gathorne-Hardy, 44, of White House Farm, which is part of Great Glemham Farms, near Saxmundham said: “One of the people I work with is a fourth generation timberman.

“He has an extraordinary understanding of timber and trees in Suffolk and he thinks it is probably one of the ten tallest oaks in the county in terms of height and stature.

“One of the theories we have looked at is that it would have been alive when Crabbe lived in the village. I’m pretty sure he would have walked underneath it.”

Mr Gathorne-Hardy said the tree, which first started showing symptoms of the disease four or five years ago, now had to be felled for health and safety reasons.

He added: “This is the thing I find most distressing that we are losing trees that have been around us some of them for hundreds of years. It seems like negligence and a lack of compassion and understanding for our surroundings to lose organisms that have overseen most of our recent historical developments.”

Although the disease has been known for a number of years, with some experts claiming they had seen cases 14 years ago, the exact cause, although thought to be bacterial, is not yet known.

Symptoms of AOD include dark weeping patches on the trunk, severe crown deterioration and D-shaped exit holes caused by the Agrilus biuttatus beetle.

Julian Roughton, chief executive of Suffolk Wildlife Trust, has previously urged people to take part in “citizen science” and report any suspected cases to the Forestry Commission.

Mr Gathorne-Hardy said it was vital that the profile of AOD was raised and called on the Government for improvements in how they respond to tree diseases.

He added: “There really seems to be a terrible complacency about what is happening to our trees. It is almost systemic failure.”

The EADT reported last week how Woodland Heritage, a charity dedicated to the proper management of British trees, had initiated a fundraising campaign after what they accused the Government of “underfunding the problem.”

Their work has led to the funding of an international bacterial taxonomist, a micro-biologist, a molecular scientist and a lab assistant at Forest Research – the research agency of the Forestry Commission.

A spokeswoman for Defra said they are taking the threat of tree disease seriously and a £1million project to increase the understanding of AOD is about to begin.

Related articles

shares

0 comments

1st Woodbridge Scout Group take part in the Woodbridge carnival procession.

This year’s Woodbridge Carnival was particularly special for several reasons.

Large crowds soak up the sun and music at Music by the Sea in Aldeburgh.

A record-breaking number of music lovers lapped up the sounds of the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and noughties on the Suffolk coast.

Seth and Eliza Gaw loved Latitude but planning was key, says dad Matt Gaw

With the mounting costs of family holidays, events like Latitude can be a genuine alternative to a traditional bucket and spade break.

A man has been arrested in the investigation

A man has been arrested following reports of a rape in Sudbury.

Mounted police officers patrol on the beach of  Sousse, Tunisia. Inset image of Stuart Cullen.

The Government is to fund a permanent memorial dedicated to the victims of the Tunisian beach massacre - including two Suffolk victims.

Thousands of people are expected to flock to Ipswich Music Day, in Christchurch Park

The annual Ipswich Music Day festivities in Christchurch Park get underway at 12pm, despite the wet weather.

Police have arrested a man following the stabbing

Police in Essex have arrested a man following a stabbing which happened in Chelmsford yesterday afternoon.

An Abellio Greater Anglia train at Colchester

Train delays through Suffolk and Essex have been caused by urgent repairs to a railway bridge between Witham and Hatfield Peveral.

Ipswich swimmer Karen Pickering at the towns Crown Pools with the medals she won at the Commonwealth Games in Canada

For years, Karen Pickering was known around Ipswich simply as ‘Swimmer’, and you can understand why, writes Sheen Grant after talking to the new mum of twin girls, Evie and Mia.

Police are appealing for witnesses to come forward

Police are investigating an incident where a car collided with a man in a wheelchair in Colchester, and failed to stop.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages