WORK will begin in early April to remove a small number of diseased and dying trees in Chestnut Walk, by the Reading Abbey Ruins.
In early April the Council’s tree team will remove three already heavily pruned tree stumps and one larger mature chestnut tree, which are suffering from disease. Around twenty other trees in the avenue will remain untouched. Signs will be in place to notify the public of the planned work.
An inspection of the horse chestnut trees which line Chestnut Walk in 2016 revealed problems with a number of the trees in the avenue, confirming that they are suffering from canker, fungal brackets and other defects. Two trees were felled at the time and several others pruned back to prolong their life.
Following a new survey of the trees in January 2019, further major defects have been found and since they are located on a pathway, they represent a safety risk to the public and further tree removals are now necessary.
It is anticipated the remaining trees will continue to decline and further work will have to be carried out. Longer term, the aim will be to carry out a wider improvement scheme in the area, which could include re-planting of the avenue with a more suitable species of tree, such as sweet chestnut or chestnut leaved oak. It is hoped that the existing trees can be managed safely until the entire avenue can be replaced thus avoiding any period with no trees on site.
Cllr Sarah Hacker, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Sport and Consumer Services, said: “Regretfully, the time has come to start removing these failing trees. We need to act now to remove any diseased trees.
“Unfortunately, horse chestnuts are subject to a range of diseases. Since they are shedding limbs, they represent a significant hazard to the public and the most sensible course of action is to remove them and longer term to replace them with a hardier, disease resistant species, as we have done successfully in Prospect Park.”
Horse chestnuts are particularly susceptible to diseases, including canker, chestnut blight and leaf miner. Nationally, many horse chestnuts are being replaced with other disease-resistant species. At Prospect Park in Reading, the entire avenue of horse chestnut trees has been removed and replaced with chestnut-leaved oaks, which are a fast-growing, disease tolerant species with a mature height of over 20m.