Horse damage to mature and veteran beech

Grazing rights on commons must be safeguarded, for these rights are an historical relic of an otherwise aggressively-advancing culture. Indeed, there are a wide range of benefits from grazing, including the ecological, socio-economic and cultural, though the New Forest – and probably many (or all!) other sites where grazing occurs under tree canopies – is also subject to the damage associated with unrestricted grazing.

Certainly, the number of horses within the New Forest, the unrestricted nature of their movement and the lack of safeguarding measures (and probably food) around veteran trees has resulted in some quite substantial (yet currently rather isolated and sporadic) damage to the beech trees. I would expect much of the damage comes during winter, when the horses are searching for food that is not in such great abundance, and luckily (or not!?) I managed to watch a few horses de-barking a fallen limb and the butt of one particular beech tree (whilst another horse was grazing upon the lower branches of holly), in addition to some recent examples of damage on other beech.

horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-1
On the left, a horse is feastung upon some low-hanging Ilex aquifolium, whilst on the right a plucky horse tries its luck at beech bark.
horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-2
Here, we can also spy another horse stripping a fallen limb of bark, too.
horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-3
Notice more historic grazing wounds beneath the much fresher wound currently being created.
horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-4
Nearby, this particular beech yields far more significant damage. This damage might have even occurred earlier in the morning.
horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-5
The lack of any callus / woundwood growth proves how fresh the damage is.
horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-6
One can also appreciate the style of damage, causing by the teeth of the horses as they strip the bark.
horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-7
Some flies are themselves grazing upon the sugars of the phloem that is now exposed so extensively.
horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-8
In Bolderwood, this beech is accompanied by a sign, which educates members of the public about grazing damage – sort of.
horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-9
“Keep the ponies out!”, they ask. Whether tourists bother reading this I do not know, though perhaps it’s a new addition to the tree, which is actually in an area (Jubilee Wood) fenced-off from horses.
horse-damage-grazing-tree-pasture-10
Said with such a long face…
Advertisements
Horse damage to mature and veteran beech

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s