Today, Shropshire Wildlife Trust (SWT) carried out its plans to fell an oak tree on Whitcliffe Common. The trust has reacted poorly throughout an affair that has divided our town. We need to learn the lessons from this.
For this oak tree, and the wildlife that sheltered in it, it is over. It has been felled. The freezing fog this morning was probably not the best time for all the bugs and beasties that live in oaks to find a new host. I guess they are now on their way to compost.
Before the felling
And now the oak has gone
This has been a difficult debate. I have said before that there should have been more consultation from day one. We need to think about how to manage precious resources such as Whitcliffe Common. We need to find a wider consensus on how to manage the precious environment we residents of Ludlow live in. That applies as much to our historic town centre as it does to the commons and the fields that surround our town.
SWT has not presented a coherent case for management of Whitcliffe Common. It has referred to an unpublished management plan that dates back nearly twenty years. The way we manage the environment has changed since then and the respect that all of us have for trees has grown. There is an urgent need for an up to date and public management plan for Whitcliffe Common.
Part of a belated case for the oak felling is that views from the parking bay on the road will be improved for disabled visitors. That’s a good argument we need to respect. But the word “disabled” is not mentioned in the two applications for tree felling. I have asked SWT to put forward plans for a disabled parking bay at the top of the common. I have yet to receive a response.
I am not sure that we can now trust SWT to do the best for environment – or even the disabled – rather take the easiest way forward.
I have asked SWT to set out in writing a commitment that the second, right viewed, tree will not be felled.
Today was a tree felling that went wrong. Trees need to be felled. That’s part of the long term management of woodland and commons. But in a sensitive location such as Whitcliffe Common, we need the highest standards. SWT hasn’t stepped up to that standard.
I have learnt many lessons from this controversy. I hope everyone else has, including Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Update 26 January 2017
Colin Preston, Director of Shropshire Wildlife Trust has confirmed that the second oak tree will not be felled.
Unfortunately, a number of the comments on this post from both sides of the debate were abusive. I have deleted the worst and will not allow further comments. This is unfortunate as this is a topic we should debate – but it must be a civilised debate.