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New Forest trees count the cost of months of storms

Exceptionally wet and windy weather has seen New Forest tree experts inundated with enquiries about damaged and fallen trees.

bryan wilson npa

New Forest National Park Authority Senior Tree Officer Bryan Wilson inspects an oak tree which fell in recent storms at Church Lane, Brockenhurst, Hampshire

Exceptionally wet and windy weather has seen New Forest tree experts inundated with enquiries about damaged and fallen trees.

The New Forest National Park Authority’s Senior Tree Officer Bryan Wilson says that in his 25 years of caring for New Forest trees, he and his team has never had to issue so many notices for urgent works to protected specimens in such a short space of time.

The tree team, which provides expertise to homeowners within the National Park and wider New Forest district, has had to issue 160 notices for urgent work to protected trees in the four months between October 2013 and January this year as a direct result of the bad weather, compared to 30 notices in the same period the previous year (October 2012 – January 2013).

Bryan said: ‘This is extreme weather by anybody’s terms and a succession of storms with strong winds and continued rainfall has been going on since October with hardly any respite. It is worse than we had even in 1987 and 1990 storms.

‘Many trees have blown down or have lost branches. The Tree Service telephone has been ringing more or less continuously over the last few weeks with requests from anxious landowners seeking help and advice about their or their neighbours’ trees.

‘One of the differences between this and the ’87 storm is that most of the deciduous trees were still in leaf when that storm hit, so at this time of year there is less likelihood of a whole deciduous tree going over. However we have particularly seen conifers badly affected, such as a Scots pine snapped in half 25ft up in the middle of a row of trees.’

The New Forest has the greatest concentration of ancient and veteran trees in western Europe and around half the National Park is covered with woodland.


How do I know if a tree is protected?

If you live in a conservation area, any tree with a trunk greater than 75cm (three inches) in diameter at 1.5 metres (4ft) above ground level will be protected. Check out the conservation areas on the National Park website:

Individual trees, groups, or woodland may also be protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) made by the National Park Authority. These will be with the homeowners’ deeds when they buy a house. When new TPOs are made, the landowner will receive a copy of the order.

How do I know if a tree needs urgent work?
When there is a broken branch hanging or held in the crown of the tree or when the tree is rocking in the ground and you can see it is going to fall on something important like a road or building. If it is in the middle of woodland, work is less urgently needed.

What are the most resilient trees?
It depends on the circumstances, the location, getting a good tree to start off with and making sure you plant it well.

Where can I get advice?
The best way to get quick advice is to call your local tree surgeon and ask them to visit and assess the situation. A list of those approved by the Aboricultural Association can be found at For information on protected specimens, contact the Tree Service on 01590 646620.

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