Oak trees support more life forms than any other native tree, hosting hundreds of insect species, supplying many birds with an important food source and, in autumn, mammals such as squirrels, badgers and deer feed on acorns.
The soft leaves of English oaks break down in autumn and form a rich leaf mould beneath the tree, supporting invertebrates such as the stag beetle, and fungi. Holes and crevices in the tree bark are perfect nesting spots for a variety of birds.
Bats also roost in old woodpecker holes or under loose bark, and feed on the rich supply of insects in the tree canopy.
So why was one of the 200+ year old oak trees, that stand proudly alongside London Road, chopped down recently? An explanation provided states that the tree was badly decayed and a risk. Yet if you go along and have a look at the stump and the base of the felled tree it looks perfectly sound. Why couldn’t any rotten branches have been removed leaving the magnificent tree to survive? These trees are too important an environmental resource to be chopped down, surely this drastic option should be an absolute last resort.
Over the last few years a number of significant oak trees have been felled for a variety of reasons. Two huge specimens that used to grace the car park at the village hall were cut down and hauled away having been crunched into tiny pieces. A further two oak trees that stood in the nature reserve were felled and the trunks left on the ground. A magnificient oak near to the cub hut was dropped recently and the trunk remains on the ground. Now the one that stood alongside London Road has been taken down.
The environmental value of these trees is difficult to overstate and it is disturbing to see trees removed from the landscape with no apparent mechanism for public engagement or consultation. Should there be a chance for members of the village to have a say in what happens? Should there be an opportunity for other options to be explored and for the least worst impact determined through a thoughtful series of discussions?