Woodlands will recover despite 10m trees lost to storm, says commission

Snapped tree - image:thskyt
Snapped tree - image:thskyt

Nearly two-thirds of southern England's woodlands were affected by the St Jude's Day storm, but "very few" are likely to suffer long-term damage, according to the Forestry Commission.

Its National Incident Management Team organised a survey of over 160 woodlands over two weeks, looking for trees blown over, snapped or having suffered crown damage.  This was found to be concentrated in woods between Wiltshire and Kent.

Director of forest services Richard Greenhouse said: "Sadly the storm left behind some personal tragedies,  but our woodlands should readily recover from localised damage, and there could even be a benefit to wildlife conservation."

One per cent of larger trees across the storm area were blown over, plus another 0.5 per cent snapped around halfway up the trunk, he said, adding that removing such small volumes for timber would be "uneconomic".

"In hard numbers this could account for around 10 million trees 'lost' from the woodlands as a result of this natural event, but we must remember that more than 650 million remain," he said.

Tree losses will temporarily allow additional light to reach the forest floor, while the resulting deadwood will also serve as wildlife habitat, he added.

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