WORK has started on the removal of a number of mature horse chestnut trees in Prospect Park which are dying.
In recent years, the trees, which line the driveway to the Mansion House in the park, have shed a number of large limbs.
A full inspection of these trees confirmed they have canker, fungal brackets and other defects, and since they are located on a driveway, some next to football pitches, they represent a safety risk to the public. The decision was made to take out the hazardous trees.
An inspection by the Council’s tree inspector two years ago revealed the disease was widespread in the avenue. In 2016 the whole south side of the avenue of mature and young trees on the south side of the driveway were felled and a new line of replacements planted.
At the time, trees on the north side, which had received more shelter, had fared better and only one was felled. The Council continued to monitor trees on the north side with a view to felling and replacing them when needed.
Unfortunately, these remaining trees have continued to deteriorate and several now need to be felled. The Council plans to replace the entire north side, and have started the work this week. Signs are in place to notify the public of the planned work.
Since horse chestnuts are particularly susceptible to diseases, including canker, chestnut blight and leaf miner, the diseased trees will be replaced with chestnut-leaved oaks, which are a fast-growing, disease tolerant species with a mature height of over 20m.
Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Sport and Consumer Services, said: “Regretfully, the time has come to start replanting the north side of the avenue of trees at Prospect Park. We need to act now to remove these diseased trees so that they don’t go on to contaminate other healthy trees in the park.
“Unfortunately, horse chestnuts are subject to a range of diseases. Since they are shedding limbs, they also represent a significant hazard to the public and the most sensible course of action is to remove and replace them with a hardier, disease resistant species as we have done successfully in 2016 with the south avenue.”
Notes for Editors:
Prospect Park in west Reading is the borough’s largest park and listed as Grade II in the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens and a landscape of national importance. Previous funded work has included new tree planting and external boundary improvements.
Chestnut-leaved oak is not widely planted in this country, which makes it an interesting choice of tree. The National Trust replaced the horse chestnut avenue at Barrington Court with chestnut-leaved oaks, which is more tolerant to disease.