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Veteran trees, extreme weather and habitat benefits Looking back on October 1987


David Humphries
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/1/2017 at 10:45, David Humphries said:

Ow do mate

glad you liked it, probably brought back some good memories.

Bizarrely, I've not managed to track down many 'morning after' shots, particularly from people who still or used to work there at the time. (i only took a few) No doubt the locals will have tonnes of images in forgotten about hard copy photo wallets. Might put a call out in the local rag to see if there are any. Would make a good addition to the sites archive.

Here you go Dave, here's a few of mine to be going on with.

In Oct '87 I was working with Surrey County Council's Countryside Service, as a forester. On that morning our foreman said we'd better go and see if there was much damage - we left the depot, near Leatherhead, and managed to go a few hundred yards along the A246 (third & fourth pics) and were met by a wall of prone beech trees. It would be a full day before we managed to cut our way through and open the road - to a single lane.

Close to our depot was one of our countryside sites called The Sheepleas which before the storm, was famed for its beech woodlands and meadows. As you can see from the first two shots, there wasn't much left of the beech woodland; with a 70% canopy loss across the entire site. (Coincidentally, I would later become the ranger for the site and manage it for 20 years; giving me the great privilege to be able watch the 'cleared' areas recolonise and change.)

What was particularly interesting, following on from the main article, was that 90% of the veteran trees survived. The reason for this was clear; much like most of Surrey before WW1, The Sheepleas had been actively managed - as an area for sheep grazing and most of the woodland as coppice with standards. But the majority of the site was open grazing land with a few open grown trees dotted throughout and marking boundaries. But at some point in the early part of the 20th C the men and sheep stopped being active on the site and a large swathe of secondary woodland developed, as it did across much of the arable lane, heathland and grasslands of Surrey. It was this secondary woodland at this site and across the county, which was hammered the hardest. Obviously many veteran trees were hit and damaged by falling, neighbouring trees and some of these would decay and decline over the next couple of decades.

At The Sheepleas, the greatest ecological event was the opening of the ground (once again) to sunlight, warmth and rain and the dormant seeds of a myriad of chalk grassland species took advantage of this and the species-rich grasslands, lost under the dark canopies of the beech, slowly began to return. This allowed for the management of a rich mosaic of habitats.

I could go on and on but I'm boring myself now.

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2 minutes ago, Austin Spanners said:

Here you go Dave, here's a few of mine to be going on with.

In Oct '87 I was working with Surrey County Council's Countryside Service, as a forester. On that morning our foreman said we'd better go and see if there was much damage - we left the depot, near Leatherhead, and managed to go a few hundred yards along the A246 (third & fourth pics) and were met by a wall of prone beech trees. It would be a full day before we managed to cut our way through and open the road - to a single lane.

Close to our depot was one of our countryside sites called The Sheepleas which before the storm, was famed for its beech woodlands and meadows. As you can see from the first two shots, there wasn't much left of the beech woodland; with a 70% canopy loss across the entire site. (Coincidentally, I would later become the ranger for the site and manage it for 20 years; giving me the great privilege to be able watch the 'cleared' areas recolonise and change.)

What was particularly interesting, following on from the main article, was that 90% of the veteran trees survived. The reason for this was clear; much like most of Surrey before WW1, The Sheepleas had been actively managed - as an area for sheep grazing and most of the woodland as coppice with standards. But the majority of the site was open grazing land with a few open grown trees dotted throughout and marking boundaries. But at some point in the early part of the 20th C the men and sheep stopped being active on the site and a large swathe of secondary woodland developed, as it did across much of the arable lane, heathland and grasslands of Surrey. It was this secondary woodland at this site and across the county, which was hammered the hardest. Obviously many veteran trees were hit and damaged by falling, neighbouring trees and some of these would decay and decline over the next couple of decades.

At The Sheepleas, the greatest ecological event was the opening of the ground (once again) to sunlight, warmth and rain and the dormant seeds of a myriad of chalk grassland species took advantage of this and the species-rich grasslands, lost under the dark canopies of the beech, slowly began to return. This allowed for the management of a rich mosaic of habitats.

I could go on and on but I'm boring myself now.

IMG_20161103_0021.jpg

IMG_20161103_0022.jpg

IMG_20161103_0015.jpg

IMG_20161103_0016.jpg

 

Excellent, thanks for sharing these Mr Spanners, brings back memories :thumbup1:

 

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