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!

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

Tree Works on Streatham Campus

In preparation for the extension of Car Park B (approved planning application 18/0487/FUL) which is scheduled to commence in June 2019, it is necessary that the existing trees that are affected by the works are removed in advance of the bird nesting season; this work is scheduled to be completed before 31st January.

As part of the extension to Car Park B, there is a plan to replace the trees on the east side of the access road to Car Park B.

Also the Grounds Team have identified some trees from the site that can be saved by moving and replanting them on campus.

In addition, the Grounds Team will be planting 12 x standard trees, 220 x tree whips and 6 x donated trees, to help ensure a sustainable tree cover on campus and a robust range of species for both amenity and ecological value.

National Tree Week

It’s National Tree Week! First initiated in 1975, National Tree Week is the UK’s largest tree celebration annually launching the start of the winter tree planting season.

We are extremely lucky and proud to have 10,000 trees on University grounds. They are all managed in-house by the Grounds Team skills and dedicated arborists.

To help you appreciate a selection of our diverse trees, we have published Tree Trail guides for both the Streatham Campus and St Luke’s Campus which can be downloaded from the Grounds website.

Cover Page – Tree Trail St Luke’s Campus

Cover Page – Tree Trail Streatham Campus

 

 

 

National Tree Week

It’s National Tree Week and to celebrate we thought we’d give you some information about our trees. We have over 10,000 trees on our Exeter campuses, over 100 Champion trees, 3 Arboretums and a Jubilee Woodland.

They make an environmental contribution storing 1,951 tonnes of carbon per annum worth £125,000.

We are about to start this season’s tree planting to sustain the campus tree cover.

If you would like to know more about some of our prominent and unusual trees please download the Streatham Campus Tree Trail guide from our website. We are also currently developing a St Luke’s Campus Tree Trail .

Oak Tree at Reed Arboretum

UK & Ireland Tree Climbing Competition hosted at Exeter University

We were very excited to host the UK & Ireland Tree Climbing Competition on Streatham Campus in September as part of the Arboricultural Association’s 51st Amenity Conference. Categories included Throwline Test, Fast Climb, Rescue Test and Work Climb on trees such as a Pinus sylvestris, a Pinus nigra and a Cedar. The results of the competition and a review can be found here

tree climbing competition 2

tree climbing competition 1

tree climbing competition 3

climbing competition

arb association conference

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 an 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 survey, we have produced tree information plaques.

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