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Forestry England says oak 'saved' in Burley may still have to be felled

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AN OAK ‘saved’ by a group of Burley residents who formed a human chain to stop its felling may still have to be cut down as Forestry England says it is showing signs of disease.

On Monday retired social worker Sue Crooks organised a protest to prevent tree surgeons from removing a large tree on Pound Lane.

Determined Sue, who lives near the tree, said she believed the oak was “perfectly healthy” and did not need to be felled. She and several neighbours stood around the oak for 90 minutes to stop it being cut down.

Sue Crooks believed she had saved the oak in Burley
Sue Crooks believed she had saved the oak in Burley

Sue said a Forestry England representative at the scene eventually agreed to leave a third of the tree still standing but warned it may still have to be cut down.

Now FE says that is likely as tests have shown the oak has a “very high percentage of decayed and degraded wood” within it.

A spokesperson said: “The expert contractors will continue to dismantle the oak tree and will be assessing its structure as they work. It will be felled to the ground unless advised by the professionals involved that it is safe to leave a monolith.”

Sue had retired to the New Forest with her husband because they both love trees and woodland. She had been horrified to hear the noise of saws on Monday morning and find the tree surgeons busy felling the oak.

Her and her neighbours' protest seemed to have won the day but not only is that oak still at risk, but another on Pound Lane is also set to be felled. Three other oaks showing signs of decay are to have “major” dead wood removed from them.

The FE spokesperson said there is an “extremely high risk” of the trees dropping branches, or “falling altogether.”

The oak may still be felled
The oak may still be felled

They said: “We understand some residents’ concern about removing ancient oak trees from within Burley.

It wasn’t a decision that Forestry England took lightly. Indeed, we asked specialist tree consultants to carry out thorough checks on five oak trees on land we manage along Pound Lane following concerns raised by local people about signs of decay.

“Special equipment was used, which can 'look' internally into a branch or tree trunk, and display a computer-generated image to show its condition.

“The test results showed a very high percentage of decayed and degraded wood within two of the oak trees, and major deadwood in parts of the other three trees.

"Due to the very poor condition of these trees, their stability can deteriorate very quickly. There is an extremely high risk of them dropping branches or falling altogether, which would cause a risk to road users, local residents and their properties.

"An uprooted tree close to the road could even damage the integrity of the carriageway itself.”

The FE said that wildlife experts had carried out studies on the area to ensure wildlife would be protected while the work is being carried out.

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