Tree felling not what it appears

WORK by Malvern Hills Conservators to preserve Midsummer Hill on the Malvern Hills has been criticised by a local resident.

Sally Gibson, who lives at Coombe Green, close to the hill, says she and her two daughters were “horrified” to see trees being cut down and taken away.

But the Conservators say the work is necessary to preserve Midsummer Hill’s Iron Age fort and enhance the wildlife.

Mrs Gibson said: “We were horrifed to find tractors and trailers churning up the native bluebells, contractors felling trees that have been never been touched in generations.

“My daughters were extremely upset and have asked me why they were cutting down trees as it goes against everything they are taught.

“I was always under the assumption that flora on Midsummer Hill were left to do their own natural thing and even when you have done work on this hill in the past trees have been allowed to lie where they fall.”

Jennifer Grantham, the Conservators’ deputy conservation officer, said that Midsummer Hill is designated as both a Scheduled Ancient Monument by English Heritage for its archaeology and a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England for its wildlife value.

She said: “I can appreciate that the work may be shocking but I can assure you that the work is a result of advice and consultation with various partner bodies including Natural England, the National Trust, owners of the Hill fort and their archaeologist, the county archaeologist, English Heritage and a local ornithology expert.”

“The aim of the work was to clear the less ecologicallyimportant trees to protect the archaeology from root damage and thus improving the long-term stability of the Iron Age hill fort so that future generations can enjoy it.

“The work also acts to expand the area of rare species-rich grassland.”

But Mrs Gibson says she is still not happy.

She said: “I’ve lived here all my life, and they’ve never had to do this before. It’s such a lovely area. Why couldn’t they just leave it alone? It doesn’t need to be helped along.”

Comments (9)

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4:55pm Sat 25 Feb 12

evendine1 says...

After hearing that logging was happening on the hills (again!), I visited Midsummer Hill last weekend and was appalled at the devastation I found. Mature designated woodland, including fine specimens of ash, oak and hawthorn clear felled on a Scheduled Ancient Monument in an SSSI, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty!! The ancient and slow growing moss-turf has been turned into a tractor rutted mud-patch :0( How many rare and protected species have been damaged?

Before leaving to visit the site, I called the County Archaeology department responsible in Hereford and met one of their archaeological staff there - who seemed appalled at the damage done - particularly that large fires which had been lit on the actual ramparts of the fort. Contrary to what is suggested by the MHC deputy Conservation Officer in this article, the damage done to the site was such that the County Archaeology department immediately instigated a formal investigation into what had taken place. We await their report.

When questioned over the legality of clear felling designated woodland in such an important and heavily protected location, The Conservators Conservation Officer, Rob Havard, responded that s.10 of the Malvern Hills Act 1884 and s.14 of the Commons Act 1899 designates the hills as an 'open space' and that therefore MHC are exempt from needing felling licenses under the provisions of the Forestry Act 1967.

This ignores the fact that exemptions do not apply to a SSSI in a Scheduled Ancient Monument. (see 'Felling Trees in Special Areas': http://www.forestry.
gov.uk/pdf/fccs321.p
df/$FILE/fccs321.pdf
)
Scheduled Monument Consent is required before any change is made to the environment of a SAM.

Whatever the Conservator's legal argument, it most certainly doesn't apply to land which they do not own such as Midsummer's Hill (National Trust land).

In any case, the Conservators have a mandatory duty to protect and preserve the woodland of the hills under s.21 of the Malvern Hills Act 1924.

To add insult to injury, I then learned that the 'Conservators' have clear felled Ragged Stone Hill too! Similar destruction has been visited on that other beautiful Ancient Woodland - Park Wood...

So soon after the the St Ann's Well scandal, one might have thought the 'Conservators' have learned a lesson or two about listening to what the public want and getting proper legal advice. Apparently not, to the detriment of all...
After hearing that logging was happening on the hills (again!), I visited Midsummer Hill last weekend and was appalled at the devastation I found. Mature designated woodland, including fine specimens of ash, oak and hawthorn clear felled on a Scheduled Ancient Monument in an SSSI, within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty!! The ancient and slow growing moss-turf has been turned into a tractor rutted mud-patch :0( How many rare and protected species have been damaged? Before leaving to visit the site, I called the County Archaeology department responsible in Hereford and met one of their archaeological staff there - who seemed appalled at the damage done - particularly that large fires which had been lit on the actual ramparts of the fort. Contrary to what is suggested by the MHC deputy Conservation Officer in this article, the damage done to the site was such that the County Archaeology department immediately instigated a formal investigation into what had taken place. We await their report. When questioned over the legality of clear felling designated woodland in such an important and heavily protected location, The Conservators Conservation Officer, Rob Havard, responded that s.10 of the Malvern Hills Act 1884 and s.14 of the Commons Act 1899 designates the hills as an 'open space' and that therefore MHC are exempt from needing felling licenses under the provisions of the Forestry Act 1967. This ignores the fact that exemptions do not apply to a SSSI in a Scheduled Ancient Monument. (see 'Felling Trees in Special Areas': http://www.forestry. gov.uk/pdf/fccs321.p df/$FILE/fccs321.pdf ) Scheduled Monument Consent is required before any change is made to the environment of a SAM. Whatever the Conservator's legal argument, it most certainly doesn't apply to land which they do not own such as Midsummer's Hill (National Trust land). In any case, the Conservators have a mandatory duty to protect and preserve the woodland of the hills under s.21 of the Malvern Hills Act 1924. To add insult to injury, I then learned that the 'Conservators' have clear felled Ragged Stone Hill too! Similar destruction has been visited on that other beautiful Ancient Woodland - Park Wood... So soon after the the St Ann's Well scandal, one might have thought the 'Conservators' have learned a lesson or two about listening to what the public want and getting proper legal advice. Apparently not, to the detriment of all... evendine1

7:12pm Sat 25 Feb 12

evendine1 says...

Pictures, maps and other information relating to the 'Midsummer Massacre'...

http://tinyurl.com/S
HMC11
Pictures, maps and other information relating to the 'Midsummer Massacre'... http://tinyurl.com/S HMC11 evendine1

9:35pm Sat 25 Feb 12

sarah and her chickens says...

on a much smaller scale does anyone know why they have left such a mess of the trees felled just up from the north malvern clock tower? Some areas have been cleared and yet stumps of 5ft ish have been left.It looks terrible and cannot surly be of benefit to anything or anyone.
on a much smaller scale does anyone know why they have left such a mess of the trees felled just up from the north malvern clock tower? Some areas have been cleared and yet stumps of 5ft ish have been left.It looks terrible and cannot surly be of benefit to anything or anyone. sarah and her chickens

1:57am Sun 26 Feb 12

evendine1 says...

Good question Sarah! When a charity receives hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to look after our local environment, you don't expect them to trash the place!

I'd give them a ring on Monday and ask, if I were you. You might get an answer that makes sense - or maybe not ;0)
Good question Sarah! When a charity receives hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to look after our local environment, you don't expect them to trash the place! I'd give them a ring on Monday and ask, if I were you. You might get an answer that makes sense - or maybe not ;0) evendine1

5:58pm Tue 28 Feb 12

harebella says...

Midsummer Hill is a very special place to a lot of local people , I’m one of them. My daughter aged 10 & I went up there for a walk two weeks ago and were stunned by what had happened. My daughter was in tears and she refuses to go back there, we have gone up there in all weathers throughout the different seasons since she was a baby.
The thing is that it is a place of mystery with its untouched tree covered ramparts, the wooded slopes full of bluebells (the best i’ve ever seen) and the soft grass full of ancient anthills and fantastic harebells later on in summer. It’s the sort of place that inspires a child to nature, to history and to archaeology but now i don’t know how to describe how she feels , just cheated and very angry with the people responsible for destroying such a beautiful place.They cut down old twisty hawthorns and 2-3 1/2 feet diameter mature trees.
Another thing is that healthy old trees like this provide a certain amount of protection to the ramparts from wind and rain and holding them together. By chopping them down ,it can speed up any damage done as the stumps rot. The damage to the ramparts where tree stumps were dragged up and heavy machinery driven over will create indentations which once wind and rain get in will speed up the erosion. Five big fire sites have damaged the site too.
I just feel so angry with the people and organisations responsible for this injury to Midsummer Hill , for their arrogance and the way they trample their schemes over local people. There has been no respect, information, education , consultation or involvement with the people who walk and visit this hill and who hold it dear within their hearts!
Midsummer Hill is a very special place to a lot of local people , I’m one of them. My daughter aged 10 & I went up there for a walk two weeks ago and were stunned by what had happened. My daughter was in tears and she refuses to go back there, we have gone up there in all weathers throughout the different seasons since she was a baby. The thing is that it is a place of mystery with its untouched tree covered ramparts, the wooded slopes full of bluebells (the best i’ve ever seen) and the soft grass full of ancient anthills and fantastic harebells later on in summer. It’s the sort of place that inspires a child to nature, to history and to archaeology but now i don’t know how to describe how she feels , just cheated and very angry with the people responsible for destroying such a beautiful place.They cut down old twisty hawthorns and 2-3 1/2 feet diameter mature trees. Another thing is that healthy old trees like this provide a certain amount of protection to the ramparts from wind and rain and holding them together. By chopping them down ,it can speed up any damage done as the stumps rot. The damage to the ramparts where tree stumps were dragged up and heavy machinery driven over will create indentations which once wind and rain get in will speed up the erosion. Five big fire sites have damaged the site too. I just feel so angry with the people and organisations responsible for this injury to Midsummer Hill , for their arrogance and the way they trample their schemes over local people. There has been no respect, information, education , consultation or involvement with the people who walk and visit this hill and who hold it dear within their hearts! harebella

6:04pm Tue 28 Feb 12

sarah and her chickens says...

I am awiting an answer ! Will let you know
I am awiting an answer ! Will let you know sarah and her chickens

9:02pm Tue 28 Feb 12

JimllMixit says...

Yet again, mankind trying to control his environment for solely selfish reasons, when in fact, a balanced natural environment is of more benefit to us all, long term.
'Less ecologically important trees' does not make sense to me, I'm sorry. What I think is more important, today, is an untouched habitat for species to evolve. Animal and plant life takes care of itself, CHAOS though it may seem to us, there is an order to it! We are all part of it. The hills are no longer the 'Victorian' garden that they were.
Yet again, mankind trying to control his environment for solely selfish reasons, when in fact, a balanced natural environment is of more benefit to us all, long term. 'Less ecologically important trees' does not make sense to me, I'm sorry. What I think is more important, today, is an untouched habitat for species to evolve. Animal and plant life takes care of itself, CHAOS though it may seem to us, there is an order to it! We are all part of it. The hills are no longer the 'Victorian' garden that they were. JimllMixit

11:16pm Tue 28 Feb 12

evendine1 says...

@harebella: felt just the same way when I visited the site - it used to be such a tranquil, unspoiled place and now it reminds me of the Somme!

Quite so Jim - nature seems far better suited to providing a suitable ecological solution than a load of bureaucrats!

It seems odd to me that given that the ramparts on MSH were likely covered in trees for most of the last few thousand years that it is only now deemed necessary to destroy them - surely the trees will and have prevented erosion?

The Save the Malvern Hills from the 'Conservator's Facebook group received a set of pics of Ragged Stone Hill today, which clearly show the kind of mature woodland that has been devastated:

https://www.facebook
.com/pages/Save-the-
Malvern-Hills-from-t
he-Conservators/3270
15944011350

Feel free to join if you agree with our view that this is wrong...
@harebella: felt just the same way when I visited the site - it used to be such a tranquil, unspoiled place and now it reminds me of the Somme! Quite so Jim - nature seems far better suited to providing a suitable ecological solution than a load of bureaucrats! It seems odd to me that given that the ramparts on MSH were likely covered in trees for most of the last few thousand years that it is only now deemed necessary to destroy them - surely the trees will and have prevented erosion? The Save the Malvern Hills from the 'Conservator's Facebook group received a set of pics of Ragged Stone Hill today, which clearly show the kind of mature woodland that has been devastated: https://www.facebook .com/pages/Save-the- Malvern-Hills-from-t he-Conservators/3270 15944011350 Feel free to join if you agree with our view that this is wrong... evendine1

12:23pm Fri 2 Mar 12

THE FACTS says...

I MAYBE WRONG BUT I UNDERSTAND MH IS ONLY ONE OF TWO CONSERVATOR MANAGED COMMON LANDS IN THE UK THE OTHER IS WINDSOR PARK.
WHY DO TAX PAYERS HAVE TO FUND THESE PARTICULAR AREAS WHEN EVERY OTHER BIT OF ENGLAND IS LEFT TO LOOK AFTER ITSELF?
JUST ASKING.
I MAYBE WRONG BUT I UNDERSTAND MH IS ONLY ONE OF TWO CONSERVATOR MANAGED COMMON LANDS IN THE UK THE OTHER IS WINDSOR PARK. WHY DO TAX PAYERS HAVE TO FUND THESE PARTICULAR AREAS WHEN EVERY OTHER BIT OF ENGLAND IS LEFT TO LOOK AFTER ITSELF? JUST ASKING. THE FACTS

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