At the beginning of February 2020, Woking Borough Council and The Tree Clinic Surrey, undertook “veteranisation” of some of the woodland trees at the rear of Woking Leisure Centre in Woking Park.
Veteranisation is the creation of features in trees that naturally occur in more mature specimens over a period of time. Techniques include tearing of branches, creating coronation cuts which splinter ends and boring into trees to create cavities for birds and bats. By stripping bark off and damaging wood fibres, fungal spores can access the heartwood and create standing dead stumps.
It was decided to try out the technique because there is a big age gap within the tree population with majority of woodland in this location around 50 years old and only a small number of very mature specimens over 100 years old.
Without intervention, we would find that as the older specimens go into decline or are lost, the area has a shortfall in the habitat needed to sustain a number of important insects, fungi and wildlife that thrive in this type of ageing habitat. Veteranisation is not a quick fix, but the work done now will start to pay dividends in the long term, and will prove vital to maintain the diversity of this small woodland for many years to come.