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Campaigns update: a mulberry tree, a King oak and the A27

The trees might be beginning to drop their leaves in time for respite over the winter, but the campaigns team is as busy as ever defending our ancient friends. There’s no beating round the bush when it comes to protecting a special mulberry tree, or fighting to save ancient woods threatened by a bypass, despite local controversy, this month.

Plans bypassing the importance of ancient woods

A new bypass near Arundel in West Sussex could destroy up to 24 hectares of ancient woodland, depending on which option is chosen. Full of oak and hazel, these beautiful woods are teeming with important wildlife, such as white admiral butterflies, Bechstein’s bats and nightjars. Our campaign calls on Highways England to think again. With over 2,000 people already taking part, it’s a call that shouldn’t be ignored.

We are not at all opposed to new roads in principle, and understand the demands put on local communities and infrastructure by increasing levels of traffic. However ancient woods, which now cover less than 3% of the UK, are simply not appropriate places for this, or any kind of development. Ancient woodlands are irreplaceable by their very nature. The definition of ‘ancient’ comes not from the age of any trees on site but from the ancient preserved soils the trees stand upon. It’s vital these fragile soils are preserved so these unique century-old habitats can continue to thrive for future generations.

There are other options available for the bypass that will not destroy these irreplaceable habitats. With your help we can convince Highways England to opt for those instead.

Ask Highways England to protect the ancient woods in Arundel.

Take part

Here we go round the mulberry bush

A special mulberry tree has been making headlines this month. It’s a remarkable tree, gnarled and twisted into strange shapes with scarring on its trunk from bombing in the Second World War. It’s also believed to be the tree that the infamous Bishop Bonner sat under when deciding which heretics to execute. Despite its great age, it still yields a bounty of leaves and fruit in its home in Bethnal Green, London. Believed to be 500 years old, this mulberry is likely older than the first known recording of the nursery rhyme ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush’ in the 19th century. And yes, it’s actually a tree not a bush!

The mulberry is one of our most interesting ancient trees (Photo: WT/ML Michael Cooper)
The mulberry is one of our most interesting ancient trees (Photo: WT/ML Michael Cooper)

Already once saved from being removed prior to planning permission being granted (despite having a Tree Preservation Order) the tree is still not safe. This natural treasure sits within the boundaries of a development site for luxury flats and is unlikely to survive construction. We have sent in an objection.

Find out more about our work to protect and celebrate our street trees.

A tree-o of successes

And now for the good news. This is becoming quite a regular slot in this monthly blog, which we’re pleased to see!

Plans to extend a Burger King branch in Bristol proposed replacing a mature oak tree with a “green” wall. We’re not sure how it could be that green, if it involves destroying a large oak and its host of benefits! We objected to the application, requesting that the oak tree be retained. The developers listened and amended their plans to ensure the oak tree could remain due to its ‘local significant importance’. A big thank you from us to Burger King, that's the right way!

An application to add an area of ancient woodland to an existing garden in Coventry has been turned down at appeal stage. It is not appropriate for ancient woodland to be incorporated into a garden as recreational use and associated infrastructure such as sheds are likely to result in permanent loss or damage to the ancient wood. These habitats are special places that should be preserved for wildlife and for everyone to enjoy, so this is another happy outcome.

We’ve also heard that Cuttinglye Wood near Crawley Down, West Sussex, is safe from being cut down. A housing development was proposed here that would have resulted in loss and negative impacts on ancient woodland and nearby trees. Thankfully, the application was refused. A failure to adequately consider the impact on protected habitats in the area was cited as one of the reasons for it being refused. That’s what we like to hear!

How you can help

Time is running out for ancient woodland. More than 700 ancient woods are under threat from development right now. This autumn the Government has an ideal opportunity to amend planning policy for ancient woodland and special trees, giving them at least equal protection to our listed buildings. Let the Ministers in charge know you want to see this happen too.

Demand better protection for ancient woodland.

Take action now