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The Gospel Oak – management lessons from this old woody pulpit

Recent work carried out on the 6.12m tree in Worcestershire has shown that some lessons need to be learnt about how we manage our veteran trees.

This oak, gets its name so they say, because it stands on a parish boundary and in the old days the pastor would come there on a Sunday to the boundary edge to preach and sing hymns. Recently some management work was undertaken on the tree and maybe some different types of lessons can be learnt from this case.

The Gospel Oak’s number is 1406 on the Ancient Tree Inventory, indicating that it has been known to the Tree Register for a long, long time. It has a girth of 6.12m so it is a very impressive old tree.

It came to our attention at the Woodland Trust recently when Bringsty Common Manorial Court wanted to get in touch with Ted Green to ask his opinion on recent management works. Ted quickly alerted the Woodland Trust ATI team and Lead Verifier, Brian Jones volunteered to go and report back.

It does appear that although there was a specialist arboricultural report undertaken, that when the work actually took place a little too much of some branches were cut than intended and then the cut branches were cut up into too small pieces.

The contractors obviously thought they needed to do a tidy job for such an important tree but in this instance went further than intended. Vigilance in the tree instruction trail is vital if mistakes that cannot be rectified are made.In this instance the situation was perhaps not as serious as in others and the tree may well be fine.

The Ancient Tree Forum has just produced new guidance on how employing a contractor for ancient and other veteran tree work.