Park horse chestnut trees struck by disease

 

Sir, – The OPW takes tree management within the Phoenix Park and all of OPW’s designed landscapes extremely seriously (“Bats and the felled trees”, Kevin Robinson, July 3rd).

The trees referred to by Mr Robinson were of the horse chestnut variety and were of a young to early mature age. Horse chestnut trees in the Phoenix Park, and nationwide, have been affected by a number of diseases, most notably, Bleeding Canker (Pseudomonas syringae pv. Aesculi), which can kill trees of any age. This disease led to the death of many trees throughout the park, particularly the younger smaller diameter trees, the disfigurement of others, and more importantly had the potential to leave trees in an unsafe condition.

A condition assessment established that out of the 86 horse chestnut trees present, 77 trees were infected. It was the professional opinion that the condition of these trees would deteriorate, that they had a limited life expectancy and that they should be removed and replaced with a more suitable tree species.

In order to protect and maintain the designed landscape of the Phoenix Park, OPW decided to replace them with London Plane, a more robust species. These fast-growing trees can reach up to 30-40m in height and support many animals and wildlife that use the trees for food, shelter and nesting. Plane trees are also very tolerant of air pollution and are rarely affected by diseases.

In 2016, President Michael D Higgins officially opened the Commemorative Tree Avenue along Furze Road in the park which consists of 180 Plane trees. It is a living memorial to honour those who lost their lives during the significant events in Irish history between 1912 and 1922.

I would like to reassure all visitors to the Phoenix Park that OPW is constantly striving to conserve and protect the designed landscape and, most importantly, all biodiversity within it. – Yours, etc,

JOHN MCMAHON,

Commissioner of Public

Works, The Office of Public

Works, Trim, Co Meath.