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LTOA visit to New Forest

*In conjunction with Hillier Nurseries, Barrell Tree Consultancy recently hosted a visit to the New Forest for 25 members of the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA).*

It was a great opportunity for our city colleagues to sample tree management at an altogether slower pace of life.  Our first stop was at the oldest church in the New Forest, St Nicholas' Church in Brockenhurst, and a yew nestled next to it, estimated to be at least 1,000 years old.  With a trunk diameter of more than 1m, this is entirely feasible, and it ranks as one of our best heritage trees.

From there we checked out some of the tallest redwoods in Britain at Bolderwood, along with the Knightwood Oak, which is the largest oak in the Forest, with a diameter of nearly 3m.  Nearby, its sister tree, The Queen's Oak, planted by HM The Queen in 1979, is a lot smaller, but still a wonderful reminder of how trees sit at the heart of English life.

We walked off lunch with a stiff trek off the beaten track into Ridley Wood in Burley, to see the Forestry Commission's minimal intervention approach to managing some of our ancient beech woods.  We saw some of the UK's oldest beech trees, untouched and left to their own devices for decades.  This hands-off approach has resulted in a diverse ecosystem springing from dead and standing wood that would be cleared up in more accessible woodlands.  The expert eye of David Humphries from the City of London soon picked out many rare fungi including the red banded polypore (Fomitopsis pinicola) and other specialist decayers of very old dead wood.

It rained a lot, there's nothing quite like enthusiasm to warm the soul!