Tree health: owners check your trees, and Welsh Government needs a national tree health strategy

Alongside our annual reminder to land managers to check their trees, we call on the Welsh Government - so focused on tree planting - to create a strategy to improve the health of our existing tree stock
Ancient oak woodland path by River Usk Wales RD.JPG
We need a strategy to support the replacement of diseased and dead trees

“Our annual advice to members to check-out their trees is accompanied this year by our call on the Welsh Government to rethink its focus on tree-planting and act now to tackle a leaky-bucket situation and do more to preserve existing trees,” says Charles de Winton, Rural Surveyor. “I’ve noticed a huge amount of tree work done in the winter following damage-done by the named storms. A stitch in time saves nine – the saying goes.”

“This month, trees are sprouting leaves and it’s time to spot dead branches and plan to remove them. There’s the risk of prosecution when damage or obstruction occurs – notably where trees overhang roads and rights-of-way. It’s an irony that owners can be reluctant to manage trees owing to the complexities of felling-licences, conservation areas, Tree Preservation Orders and protection for nesting birds between March-September. However trees can be managed in the interests of safety. Where doubt exists owners should liaise with the local authority tree officer or planning department – and we can offer direct advice too.”

Committed to planting lots of new trees, the Welsh Government needs to focus on the health of existing trees

Charles de Winton, CLA Cymru Rural Surveyor

This valuable advice about existing trees comes as woodland owners are concerned about increasing rates of tree disease in Wales, notably ash dieback, phylopthera (which affects larch) and a range of other pests and pathogens affecting our trees. “High investment in new tree-planting on land which could be producing high-yield crops which make a more immediate contribution to net-zero goals – should be accompanied by a strategy to keep our existing tree-stock healthy. The Welsh Government should introduce a replacement strategy for dead and dying trees as part of a Tree Health initiative similar to a pilot launched in England last year.”

“Existing mature trees have a far greater capacity for carbon management as well as many other bio conservation, landscape and mental health benefits. The Welsh Government must plug this gap in tree, woodland and forest management.”