Always look at the parent

Imported pests and diseases are rife among UK trees, but there is a solution!

With an explosion of foreign tree imports in recent decades, the Arboricultural industry is now reaping what it has sowed. Ash dieback, the Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) and the pine moth caterpillar are just a few of the unwelcome visitors to the UK, forcing Government importation bans and costing Defra a fortune to police. OPM is a significant hazard to human health, causing severe respiratory reactions, and will cost authorities at least a six-figure sum to control in London alone this year.

But does it have to be that way? Mike Glover, managing director, explains how we collect seed from veteran trees across the UK each autumn:

‘I have a simple rule when choosing seed—always look at the parent. One of my favourites is a superb English oak in Northamptonshire. If it looks this good after 700 years nature is telling me all is well!’

‘Whether it’s English oak from Northamptonshire and Windsor, holm oak from Norfolk, sycamore and beech from Gloucestershire, birch from Wales or alder from Scotland, we believe there should be an emphasis on home grown trees. ‘British trees are best suited to thrive in this country and, by growing trees in this way, the threat of pests and diseases entering the country is negated,’ Mike enthuses.

But trees are a long-term business and there is always demand for a greater diversity than our native range. Significantly, the topic of tree importation and the protection of woodland became a topic of discussion in the House of Lords earlier this year. Barcham Trees was singled out for trying to tackle these problems by introducing its own quarantine system for all imported trees. ‘We don’t import trees and sell to customers for immediate planting—instead, we hold all imported trees on the nursery for at least one full growing season. During this time, they are monitored by professionals and outside agencies such as Defra,’ Mike elaborates. It may not always be practical to look at the parent, but knowing where our trees have come from means we can enjoy a full range of beautiful specimens without unintended and potentially disastrous consequences.

For our biosecurity policy please follow the link Biosecurity

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