Oak Dieback UK, Europe

beth thompson gates at gates.demon.co.uk
Sun Sep 22 18:36:48 EST 1996

In article <na.13bd184710.a500d0haughton at argonet.co.uk>, Steele Haughton
<haughton at argonet.co.uk> writes
>I would be very interested to hear from anyone with experience of Oak
>Dieback in Quercus robur in Uk or Europe.
>There has beeen a problem over the last 10 years in England with mid
>rotation oak dying. The problem appears complex with climate, fungus and
>flat head borer (beetle larvae) being possible causes/contributors. Recent
>observations indicate that larvae of previously very rare beetles may be
>accelerating oak decline once weakened.
>Any observations including proportion of crop in decline/dead, age, soil,
>recent weather, location appreciated.
hi, I'm not a tree pro but do have a great interest including
occasionally advising the forest authority     most especially I am
interested in the spiritual side of trees and am happy to publicise
information to UK Pagans etc. for feedback   (Gates of Annwn is a Pagan
contact magazine).

May I respectfully suggest you contact a tree ring expert at a UK
university archeology unit?  You should be able to detect oak dieback
periods you can then use info from to predict future and if only from
the inexplicable gaps they have in their data

While you have your crystal ball out you may be more receptive to some
oral tradition (?<bg>)   I recall being told that oak dieback is
cyclical through Europe every seven centuries - it would be interesting
to see whether this is borne out by hard evidence

I see 2 problems you will face: 1. Global warming; it would be
appropriate to work on evidence for an area several hundred miles
further North than you previously considered a good idea.  Currently,
for example, oak forests are again growing in Scotland whereas the South
Coast of England would have been a good avergae site a few years ago for
study.  So I'd now go at least to the Scottish borders.
2. Hybridisation;  so many trees are now partly hybrid I guess you'll be
careful to find a *master tree* of some antiquity then study it's
progeny in a relatively closed wood.  Within ten years I predict we will
have self seeded turkey oak hybrids mixing with current stock over and
above current levels of park and estate hybrids.  You may know there's a
turkey oak at Chatham Dockyard dating from Nelson's time.  I do not
think there are others within say 20 miles but some young oaks nearby
seem to have turkey oak characteristics.  Obviously this is very
unscientific but you may wish to consider the point.  (Holly oak in my
locality seems to have spread some leaf characteristics).  

Finally observation after a couple of recent wet springs indicate a 50%
approx improvement in sapling growth from acorns which could have been
in the ground any number of years.  Near here there are old pits where
oak is coming through vigorously after feet of soil have been scraped
off.  The age of the stock would be an intersting study.  Also, council
policy has allowed grasses to remain in parks for habitat instead of
being mowed.  Last year proliferating saplings were destroyed and this
year the mowing of the dried grasses may achieve a similar result.
There needs to be words in ears to preserve/cut around/transplant the
saplings nation - if not euro - wide.  Anything you can do?

Best Regards,    Les      (resident in Thurrock, Essex)

Les C. Ballard,    c/o BM: Gates of Annwn
                   London WC1N 3XX,  U.K.      44+(0)1708 670431
                                               Les at gates.demon.co.uk

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