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St Jude storm may have killed around 10 million trees

Fallen Trees

A sign on a fallen tree warning of a hazardous footpath after the St Jude’s storm near Sudbury, Suffolk. Photograph: M J Perris/Alamy


Powered by article titled “St Jude storm may have killed around 10 million trees” was written by Jessica Aldred, for on Friday 29th November 2013 11.28 UTC

Around 10 million trees are estimated to have died as a result of the St Jude storm that swept across England last month, according to Forestry Commission figures released on Friday.

More than half (64%) of the 109,000 woodlands across southern England are likely to have been affected by the storm in some way but very few woodlands should suffer long-term damage, the results of a two-week survey show.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to be too concerned by the large numbers of trees affected by the storm,” said a commission spokesman. “We need to remember that this was a natural event with the effects spread across many woodlands and they have great capacity to recover.” Around 650 million trees remain across the area the storm passed through.

On the morning of 28 October, the St Jude day storm battered the southern part of the UK and caused widespread disruption, with the Met Office reporting gusts of 99mph on the Isle of Wight. It caused four fatalities, left hundreds of thousands of homes without power, felled trees and disrupted travel.

Immediate ecological assessments showed that woodland and ancient trees survived much better than expected, with tree loss nowhere near the scale of previous powerful storms. The National Trust and Woodland Trust, which between them manage several thousand woods across Britain, both reported little serious damage.

Richard Greenhous, director of forest services at the Forestry Commission, said: “Sadly the storm left behind some personal tragedies but fortunately our woodlands proved resilient. They should readily recover from localised damage without seriously affecting local woodland and timber businesses and there could even be a benefit to wildlife conservation.”

Tree Damage in U.K. from St Jude Storm

The commission organised a two-week survey of 165 woodlands from Cornwall to Suffolk, searching for trees blown over or snapped and looking at damage to their crowns to assess overall woodland damage.

The storm caused more damage between Wiltshire and Kent with little or no damage recorded at the south-west and north-east extremes of the survey area.

By sampling clusters of woodland, the commission found that 3.7% of trees suffered damage to their crown (foliage and branches), and 1.5% of area and trees were affected by windthrow and snap – where trees are uprooted or broken by the wind.

The damage was mostly spread thinly throughout woods and mostly affected broadleaved stands – trees like ash, beech, birch, elm, holly, hornbeam, lime, oak and poplar that have wide leaves.

“Although around 70,000 woods were affected by the storm, the level of damage within the vast majority of these woods was low. Crown damage was highest at 3.7% of all trees across the storm area, but these trees will recover from that damage,” said Greenhous.

Ten million of the UK’s total standing tree population of 3 billion are likely to be dead. The amount of standing timber affected is approximately 2 million metres cubed, measured against an annual UK harvest of 10.5 million metres cubed. The commission said the loss was substantive, but that by the time the woodlands are mature enough to supply timber, they should have recovered any lost volume.


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