500-year-old tree felled in Birmingham by health bosses

by | Mar 29, 2016 | Featured Slider, Latest, News

The Birmingham Mail has reported that a 500-year-old tree has been chopped down by the Mental Health Trust.

A park ranger has demanded a root and branch investigation into why one of Birmingham’s oldest trees, an ancient Yew in Kings Heath, has been felled.

The ancient yew is believed to be some 500 years old and may have been planted around the time Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa.

The tree has been reduced to a tangled stump in the grounds of Uffculme House in Kings Heath after health bosses feared it posed a safety hazard.

A survey revealed it was suffering “significant decay” so Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust ordered it to be axed.

Residents living close to the Queensbridge Road site say they are horrified that the tree has been removed.

Alf Dimmock, a senior Park Ranger with Birmingham City Council, said he had been approached by angry members of the public.

“It is possibly the worst case of treeicide I have witnessed,” he said. “From a personal point of view I find it very sad.

“The tree was very much part of the city’s heritage and is a terrible loss to the people of Birmingham.”

He said on social media that the tree could be at least 500 years old and he has been in touch with experts at the Ancient Yew Group.

The Uffclume building was the former family home of Richard Cadbury, who built it in 1891 and gifted it to the city of Birmingham in 1916 to help further psychiatric health services.

Mr Dimmock added: “Richard Cadbury had spoken about a yew tree that had been in the grounds for centuries when the building was built in 1891.

“I think the real concern from local people is that there was no consultation about the plans to remove it.

“Somebody I was speaking to compared the situation to someone going to a doctor with a sore finger and having an arm chopped off.

“There are alternatives such as lopping and pruning.”

A spokeswoman for the trust said no preservation order had been attached to the tree nor any others inside the Uffculme House estate.

She added that a survey had judged the tree “over mature” and said it had needed to be removed to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.

According to the Woodland Trust Common yews can reach 400 to 600 years of age with 10 yew trees in Britain believed to predate the 10th century.

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Image courtesy of The Birmingham Mail