The tallest tree in Wales has fallen victim to this winter’s stormy weather and had to be taken down yesterday (Wednesday 2 March).
The Douglas fir tree on the Lake Vyrnwy Estate, near Llanwddyn, managed by Forestry Commission Wales, was declared the joint tallest tree in the UK in 2009 when it was last measured and found to be 63.79 metres high. According to the Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI), the tree was 124 years old.
Forestry Commission Wales Area Manager, Mike Whitley, first noticed damage to the tree at the weekend when he was carrying out routine checks after the recent strong winds.
Mike immediately called in an arboricultural consultant who carried out a full inspection to establish the tree’s condition and assess any risks that it posed.
The inspection revealed that the tree was leaning to one side, having recently moved by 20 degrees. There were two substantial longitudinal cracks on opposite sides of the main stem extending from the buttress roots to a height of 3.5 metres.
Mike said, "The cracks appeared to be very recent and are most likely to be as a result of the stormy conditions in the past two weeks.
"Multiple cracks of this magnitude, especially those on opposite sides of the stem, are an indication that the tree is separating into two or more sections.
"These sections can move independently of one another and could result in imminent failure and the collapse of the tree, particularly in strong winds."
Lake Vrynwy is a popular site for recreation, and the risk of the damaged tree falling on visitors was one Forestry Commission Wales was not prepared to take.
"The damage to the tree and the risk of it collapsing was such that we had no choice but to take it down," Mike said.
"The decision to fell trees is part and parcel of my work but the decision to take down this special tree was a really sad one for me."
As the tree was so high, it had to be dismantled by a tree surgeon in sections and the trunk now stands at 15 metres high.
But that won’t be the end of Wales’s most famous tree as Mike has come up with ideas for what to do with the trunk and the timber.
"We would like to commission a sculpture to be carved from the trunk as a lasting memorial to the tree," he said.
"We also want to make the best use of the timber. Our Education team will use some in projects with children and we may even auction some of it as souvenirs."
"And, of course, the search is now on to find Wales’s next tallest tree!"
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Douglas fir tree on the Lake Vyrnwy Estate
The Douglas fir tree on the Lake Vyrnwy Estate was declared the joint tallest tree in the UK in 2009 when it was measured at 63.79- metre high - exactly the same height as another Douglas fir near Dunans Castle in Argyll, Scotland. The Tree Register of the British Isles (TROBI) which keeps records of champion trees in the British Isles listed the two trees as joint champions.
Forestry Commission Wales
About 14 per cent of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
Forestry Commission Wales provides advice on forestry policy to the Minister responsible for forestry. It provides grant aid to other woodland owners and regulates forestry by issuing felling licences.
Forestry Commission Wales is also part of Forestry Commission GB and contributes to the international forestry agenda.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
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