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.

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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.
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Here, we can also spy another horse stripping a fallen limb of bark, too.
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Notice more historic grazing wounds beneath the much fresher wound currently being created.
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Nearby, this particular beech yields far more significant damage. This damage might have even occurred earlier in the morning.
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The lack of any callus / woundwood growth proves how fresh the damage is.
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One can also appreciate the style of damage, causing by the teeth of the horses as they strip the bark.
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Some flies are themselves grazing upon the sugars of the phloem that is now exposed so extensively.
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In Bolderwood, this beech is accompanied by a sign, which educates members of the public about grazing damage – sort of.
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“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.
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Said with such a long face…
Horse damage to mature and veteran beech

Bridging walls for tree roots – when it actually happens, it’s beautiful

The tree is damaging my brick wall!“, they exclaim. “Fell the tree!“, they demand. Frankly, the word “no” would be sufficient, in at least a good portion of cases. After all, there’s an easy engineering solution that not only balances the need for a crack-free wall and the presence of a tree, but also signals ingenuity and a reasoned approach to situation management – the bridging of said wall around the butt of the tree and its immediatly-adjacent root plate. The issue is addressed in various publications, including Tree Roots in the Built Environment, and it is a message that needs to be communicated to homeowners and tree owners alike. More of the below, please!

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A fairly large sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) within touching distance of a low brick wall and a pathway. A recipe for disaster, surely? No! The tree can easily be retained via a simple feat of engineering, as we can see even from afar.
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Not only does the remaining wall have a much lower chance of being directly damaged by the secondary thickening of the sycamore roots, but it also saves on bricks!
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We can see how the roots sit snugly beneath the brick wall, and the tree is making itself even more cosy by girdling itself………… (?).
Bridging walls for tree roots – when it actually happens, it’s beautiful