UK: Felling of the avenue of 28 historic trees on the Avebury estate in Wiltshire

The avenue of 28 historic trees on the Avebury estate in Wiltshire
leads up to a world famous stone circle. But for the last five years
the 70-year-old trees, each more than 20ft tall, have been fighting an
infection of Phytopthora (or bleeding canker). The disease causes
black gum to ooze from the tree’s bark and eventually leads to its
death. Hilary Makins, head warden of the National Trust estate, said
efforts to stave off the disease by chopping off infected parts have
failed. She said: “It did look like some of the trees were recovering
from the disease or at least holding it in remission but the amount of
bark loss and death has made many of the trees even more susceptible
to attacks from pests, fungal decay or further infection, which means
the branches are more likely to dry out and crack or drop without

The trees will now have to be felled to avoid being blown
over and causing more damage. However a new avenue will be a different
species that is not so at risk of disease. There are around half a
million horse chesnut trees in the UK in woodland settings and many
more on streets and in gardens. A recent survey by the Foresty
Commission sound that half the specimens inspected around the UK had
symptoms of bleeding canker. It is estimated that about 3,000 horse
chestnut trees with bleeding canker have had to be felled for public
safety or similar reasons in recent years. The Forestry Commission is
currently researching how to bring the disease under control.

horse chestnut leaf miner, a moth that grows to just 5mm long and
causes conkers to fall early and leaves to wither, is also spreading
from the South East to other areas of the UK. Guy Barter, head of
gardening advice at the Royal Horticultural Society, said horse
chesnuts are in danger of dying out. “Trees will probably survive the
leaf miner – although it will leave them disfigured – but the canker
has the potential to do a lot of damage,” he said. And he recommended
against planting more horse chestnuts to replace the loss as they are
less likely to survive.

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