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Beechwood Photography from Flickr

United Utilities Eco-Scheme Saves Ancient Oak Trees

Dingle Wood, a woodland near to Ridgegate Reservoir, Macclesfield, has many ancient oak trees that are hundreds of years old which were in danger of overcrowded by beech trees growing within the wood. United Utilities, however, have come to the rescue with a conservation scheme that has enabled space to be created around the oak trees giving them room to grow.

Where small beech trees intersperse the oak trees growing in the woodland, they have been felled to increase the distance between the oaks and allow sunlight to get through once again so bird and insect life isn’t under threat. Larger beeches have had outer branches stripped away which has created ‘habitat trees’ that offer homes to insects and birds.

In some instances, the beech trees, which are a rapid growing tree species, could not be felled without the risk of damage being caused to the oak trees that the eco-scheme has been implemented to protect. In these cases, tree surgeons have taken a clever and innovative approach. Branches have been cut away in such a way that they look as though the damage was done naturally by high winds and storms, so the look of the trees has not been negatively impacted on.

The split ends of the branches are a further effective method of creating homes for beneficial insects that live in the woodland, bird life, and provide a roosting spot for bats. Therefore the natural eco-system of the wood is being promoted and biodiversity within the woodland preserved and enhanced. Project Officer for the woodland, Harmen Koop, said,

“This project has secured a bright future for the woodlands’ magnificent oaks, as well as enabling a variety of insect and bird life to return to the site.”

In addition to working to remove and control the spread of the beech trees, the neighbouring Trentabank Reservoir has been planted with a range of additional tree species under the scheme, including rowans, hazels and some young oak trees.

The two reservoirs are located near to the Gritstone Trail, which makes the site popular with walkers, and with the work promoting and protecting the area’s wildlife for years to come, is an ideal location for a family walk at the weekend or to get out into nature.


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