Damage to New Forest trees "worse than Great Storm of 1987"

Senior tree officer Bryan Wilson - image:NFNPA
Senior tree officer Bryan Wilson - image:NFNPA

The winter's storms and rain have caused unprecedented damage to the New Forest's trees, according to New Forest National Park Authority's senior tree officer Bryan Wilson.

"This is extreme weather by anybody's terms - a succession of storms with strong winds and continued rainfall has been going on since October with hardly any respite," he said. "It is worse than we had even in 1987 and 1990 storms."

Wilson's team, which covers the National Park and wider New Forest district, has had to issue 160 notices for urgent work to protected trees in the four months between October 2013 and January this year, compared to 30 notices in the same period a year ago.

"The Tree Service telephone has been ringing more or less continuously over the last few weeks with requests from anxious landowners seeking help and advice about their or their neighbours' trees," Wilson added.

Lying mostly in Hampshire, the New Forest has the greatest concentration of ancient and veteran trees in western Europe. Around half the National Park, which was created in 2005, is woodland.

Meanwhile Wilson has also been called upon to explain strange "wobbling ground" effect within the park, captured on a video by two dog walkers as they ventured across one waterlogged field. 

Wilson explained: "It is not an uncommon occurrence in the New Forest in times of heavy rainfall. You have an impermeable level of soil that the water cannot penetrate, and when you get this unprecedented level of rainfall if forms a layer beneath, so it is like walking on a waterbed." 

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