Wood Habitats on Campus

We love to create wood habitats on campus as they are essential for wildlife and provide food and shelter for countless tiny invertebrates.

The habitat piles in these photos are made from the dead branches of the trees they surround, so any fungi or minibeasts are still near their habitat.

So if you see log piles on our grounds, we haven’t forgotten to clear away debris following tree works …………………… we are doing our bit for nature and the environment!

Dealing with Ash Dieback at the University

Ash Dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is a fungal disease first recorded by the Forestry Commision in 2006 becoming prominent in the South East of England in 2012.

We have confirmations on Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) specimens within our University since 2018, as has been the case for other well monitored sites in Devon and Cornwall.

The infection is permanent with no control and, although mostly terminal, there is a high degree of variability with respect to the seriousness and speed of the symptoms. We are gifted with a high number of people exploring, enjoying and being amongst our grounds and any sign of symptom is considered with great caution so physical management of these trees today and in the future is a certainty.

The dilemma amongst the Grounds team is that we know how valuable Ash is to biodiversity as a habitat. It hosts Woodpeckers (Dendrocopos major), Tawny Owls (Strix aluco), Redstarts (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and the team favourite the Nuthatch (Sitta europaea), all for nesting. The lichens and moss which grow freely are a food source for caterpillars.

We are able to balance these interests and find opportunity where people are safe, and friends of other species can continue to share the space together.

The solution we have employed, which you can see in the photo below, is to carry out a veteranisation process on a tree. The major limbs are completely removed until the crown has gone and there is only a trunk left standing. The tree is then ringbarked which involves removing the living tissue from around the trunk. With the xylem and phloem severing the plants’ ability to transport water and nutrients, the tree will die and decay and this breaking down process will become host to insect species.

Importantly as the trunk is short and wide with developed buttress roots, there is no expectation that this tree will fall.

The top of the trunk can now be coronet pruned. This describes a technique that aims to replicate the natural fracturing effect seen after a limb failure, where insect species can easily reside within and rainfall can sit and gather amongst the dead wood.

Trunk segmentations have been cut out, hollowed and an entrance point made. These have been re-attached to the trunk around all four compass points as a future bird nesting habitat.

For anyone that would like to visit this work its location can be found here – http://ex.ac.uk/veteran-ash-specimen

For the future, the best course of action is regularly monitoring the species we care for. After all a minority will also be genetically tolerant and that stock of trees amongst our collection will be vital for the long-term future of the woodlands and specimens here when we begin to repopulate.

 

Diseased tree upcycled into wildlife habitat tree stump and bird boxes

Unfortunately a diseased Ash tree behind the IAIS Building on Streatham Campus has had to be removed, but our Arb Team were keen to use this as an opportunity to help wildlife and increase wildlife habitats on campus, in keeping with our biodiversity and sustainability work practices.

It is now a wildlife habitat high stump which will harbour and benefit insects and wildlife for years to come and the team have also carved bird boxes into the trunk.

Great job team!

Our Arbmazing Arboriculture Manager!

This is our amazing Arboriculture Manager, Peter, standing in front of a row of Pinus radiata trees that he planted on campus 36 years ago in 1985!

These are just some of the 10,000 trees that Peter and his team manage on University grounds.

We salute you and your team Peter.

Update on biological control treatment of Mealybugs

An update and photos from Drew, one of our amazing Horticultural Apprentices, on the biological treatment being carried out on the Ficus trees in The Forum Street:

“So yesterday at work I got to apply biological controls to our very poorly Ficus trees. They are suffering from a serious bout of Mealybug which suck the sap and are vectors for diseases. To help combat this in an eco-friendly way, we have applied a healthy dose of Australian ladybirds (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) which will spend the next few weeks munching on the Mealybugs and hopefully leaving the Ficus much happier”.

The predator insects, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, being placed on the Ficus trees

The predator insects, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, being placed on the Ficus trees

A Cryptolaemus montrouzieri on its way to eat a Mealybug

One of the Ficus trees wrapped in the fleece to prevent the insects from escaping

All the Ficus trees wrapped in the fleece to prevent the insects from escaping

Ghostly going ons?

Ghostly going ons in The Forum? Don’t worry our Ficus trees haven’t turned into huge ghosts!

The trees have a Mealybug infestation, so we are introducing predatory insects (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) to deal with them.

Mealybug

Cryptolaemus are harmless to people, pets and wildlife and will not become a pest in their own right.

Cryptolaemus montrouzieri

By using predatory insects as an organic form of biological control, we are avoiding the use of harmful pesticides.

The fleece coverings have been placed over the trees to keep the process and insects contained.

These information sheets have been produced by our Horticultural Apprentices and will be on display next to the Ficus trees to explain the process to passerbys.

Go Green Week – Tree Planting – Lower Hoopern Valley

As part of Go Green Week 2020, the Grounds Team worked with volunteers from the Student Tree Charter on Wednesday 12th February to plant trees in the Lower Hoopern Valley which runs parallel to the Prince of Wales Road.

A variety of tree species were planted at the joint event including Betula pendula, Scots pine, Prunus spinosa, Alder, Nordmann Fir and Rosa canina.

Great job everyone!

Tree-rific News – more than £9,000 raised for Hospiscare!

We are delighted to announce that we have helped raise more than £9,000 for Hospiscare by supporting their Christmas Tree Recycling Campaign.

814 trees were collected from residents in Devon and brought to our Streatham Campus.

Some of the 814 Christmas trees ready to be chipped

The trees were then chipped by our Grounds Team and agricultural students from Bicton College.

Chipping in action

 

One of the Grounds Team apprentices

All the chippings have been donated to the Avanti Hall School (previously the Steiner Academy) and will also help improve the local Public Rights of Way.

From trees to chippings!

Well done everyone!

We would like to say an extra special thank you to our Deputy Operations Manager, Anthony Cockell, who was instrumental in co-ordinating this very worthwhile project.

Richard from Hospiscare and Anthony Cockell, Deputy Grounds Operations Manager

Grounds Team and Student Tree Planting Event

The Grounds Team and 17 student volunteers worked together to plant over 100 trees in the Hoopern Taddiforde Valley along Prince of Wales Road on Saturday 30th November.

The mainly native trees including Birch, Rowan and Oak were planted as the Woodland Trust’s Big Climate Fightback.

Great job everyone!

    

 

The Amazing Benefits of Trees!

The University of Exeter Streatham and St Luke’s Campuses, fields and woodland areas contain over 10,000 mature trees managed by the Grounds Team and we are keen to show the amazing benefits of these magnificent trees.

We recently undertook another i-tree survey of our trees, which converts measurements such as tree height, girth and canopy spread into an economic value of the natural benefits they provide.

Using some of the results from this updated survey, we have produced new wooden tree information signs which will replace the existing ones on campus.

Keep an eye out for these new signs which are displayed on trees around the grounds.