Carnage in the copse
It's been a tough few months for Three Cornered Copse. Firstly, in February, the city
was battered with Storm Eunice, which brought down several large trees, blocking
paths and bringing down fences. Secondly, in early March, the council's contractors
were engaged to cut down around 200 ash trees.
Ash tree surgery in March this year
The ash surgery has changed the appearance
of the copse beyond measure, clearing large
areas. The intention was to take down all ash
trees that could fall on paths and fences,
should they succumb to ash dieback. Most of
the trees were healthy, but deemed at risk of
injuring the public should they become vulnerable.
(Note that the chance of being killed by a
falling tree is very small, about 1 in 20 million,
according to the UK Health and Safety Executive.
Which is less than being hit by a lightning
bolt, or winning the lottery.)
Ash dieback is having a devastating effect on
all our parks and woodlands. It is caused by
the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, and
has now become widespread across the UK.
It was first identified in the UK in 2012 but it is
now thought to have been here much longer.
perhaps around 30 years. Experts expect our
woodlands to lose 80% of the ash population
over time. However, the pre-emptive felling
of ash trees is controversial, and not
recommended by The Woodland Trust, who advise
“Pre-emptive, wide-scale felling of ash could
be detrimental to the species' long-term
recovery and should be avoided wherever possible.”
Some individual trees can co-exist with the
fungus for many years, whilst more resistant
younger saplings grow alongside. The decision
is a trade-off between Health and Safety, and
the ecology of the woodland. Unfortunately our
council has decided that the former is more
important than the latter. The copse is now
dominated by huge piles of branches and logs
laying across the woodland floor. It will take
many months for the greenery to recover once
again, and there will be an effect on the start of
nesting time for the birds in the copse.
As a footnote to the article in February, the
Cityparks team, as they promised, have
re-planted the whips in the location where our
hedge was mowed, in an area further from
the border. away from any errant mowing. Our
thanks to the ranger and his team for their work.
(Further information on Ash Dieback at