New life for fallen trees

It’s been just over 50 days since the last winter storm, so we’ve re-visited some of our places to find out how they’ve used the trees that were lost across woodland, parkland and gardens.

    Dunstable Downs, Whipsnade Estate

    Jon Powell, countryside manager for Dunstable Downs, said: ‘Our major tree losses were during the St Jude storm in October when we lost a couple of old beeches.

    ‘We took the smallest branches to Whipsnade Zoo for their rhinos’ food, who seemed very grateful. Larger pieces have been used to create a new ‘scramble’ in the chute wood playscape, the stump has been left to create a deadwood habitat and other bigger branches from a damaged oak have been used to create informal benches.

    ‘After all that, any timber that we have left over will be converted in to fire wood for our office.'

    Charlecote Park

    Lisa Topham, our park and garden manager at Charlecote Park, told us how they are using the seven trees that were lost across the estate: ‘As well as the trees that fell, another six required emergency work. We’ve already totted up a bill of £6,000 and there is still more work to be done.

    ‘One of the oaks we lost is now a climbing tree, which is great for kids looking to tick off the first activity on their list of 50 Things. We have also managed to salvage some nice bits of wood from another tree, which will be made in to stepping logs for children to climb.

    ‘Finally, a lovely visitor has taken some of the wood from an old cedar tree, which was reputed to have been planted by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. He is drying the wood and will be making it into simple candle holders for us to sell over Easter. We will be using some of the money from the funds this raises to pay for new sports equipment boxes in the park.’

    Osterley Park

    Lead ranger at Osterley Park and House, Jeremy Dalton, said: ‘We are leaving some of the trunks untouched in order to create habitats, including some mature oaks that we lost. We are also building habitat piles from the branches.

    ‘Where we are unable to leave the trees in place, they are being cut for firewood and sold in our car park. We are also making additional features in our popular natural play trail. Some large pieces of the trees that need moving are being saved to create habitat in other suitable locations.'

    Black Down

    Dave Elliot, head ranger at Black Down, said: ‘We mostly only clear fallen trees when they are over roads, paths or neighbouring properties, those that fall in the woods stay for habitat value.

    ‘We do use timber across the estate for various purposes though, and try wherever possible to use our own sustainably produced home grown wood.

    ‘We need some timber for a natural play trail we are building as well as for our new Orchard House; a roundwood cruck-framed barn and workshop space we are aiming to build at Swan Barn Farm this year. This will house our apple and orchard based activities and events.’

    To find out about the team’s progress, why not check out their blog.


    At Harewoods in the Surrey Hills, 200 conifer trees were lost from this winter’s storms.

    The trees were originally planted as part of a broadleaf oak and conifer plantation in order to encourage the growth of the oak trees. A combination of the saturated soil from the winter storms and a series of tornadoes across Surrey in January caused 90% of the conifers to fall at the beginning of this year.

    Mark Richards, head ranger on the Surrey Hills, said: 'With such a large number of trees lost, there is a huge amount of work needed to clear the area. In the next couple of weeks, however, we will have finished clearing a main ride through the woodland returning public access to the area.

    ‘The rest of the trees will be left in situ until at least after the birding season in September. The way that the conifers fell, in a mix of directions creating a criss-cross of branches, means that they are providing a fantastic habitat for ground-nesting birds, including pheasants and grey partridges.

    ‘Long-term we are still deciding what will happen. We will either let it naturally regenerate or consider carrying out replanting in some of the larger open areas with native broadleaf species.’


    Head ranger on the Trelissick Estate, Neil Stevenson, said: ‘Like many parts of the South West, the Trelissick estate sustained considerable damage during this winter’s stormy weather. We lost a lot of trees, including several veterans in the park and woodland.

    ‘We’ve always used wood and timber from the estate and wind-blown trees of certain species can be utilised for this reason. However there are a lot of considerations such as timber quality, accessibility and conservation value that we have to take into account.

    ‘Turkey and Holm oak are large, impressive trees, but the timber quality is very poor. We tend to leave these oaks within the woodlands where the greatest benefit can be gained by allowing them to rot and provide a wildlife habitat for many species.

    ‘Sessile oak, which predominates in the woodland at Trelissick, on the other hand, can produce fantastic timber which is used in the boat building yards around the Fal. These timbers are ideal for restoration projects and invaluable for the upkeep of traditional boats.

    ‘Lime wood is a fabulous timber for carving. We try to retain as much wood from parkland trees as possible on-site as the conservation value is our top priority, but we are able to take out portions of the lime which are sold to local wood turners and carvers.’