26 Mar 2020
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Beech Tree in St Catherine's Park - Update February 26th 2020.
The professional staff in the Fingal County Council Operations Department looked at a number of different options in relation to the Beech tree in St Catherine’s Park. The principal issue for the professional staff was could the Beech tree be allowed to decay in its own time whilst ensuring the safety of park users and not seriously interfering with the amenity value of the park.
Unfortunately the unanimous view of the professional staff was that we have no option but to remove the tree as was previously planned. We place the health & safety of park users to the forefront of the decisions we take and in this instance, the difficulties presented by the health of this tree, which is sadly in serious decline, requires that we act on the information at hand.
We hope you understand and appreciate the process undertaken to investigate all options available.
Tree planting will take place following the removal of the tree and we hope to be able to use sections of the Beech tree as tree sculptures with further improvements planned in the park over the next few years.
It is necessary to remove the Old Beech tree located on the southern side of St Catherine’s Park, Dublin 15. This decision was made following evidence of decline identified during monitoring and a comprehensive assessment, and because of its location along a pedestrian pathway. The removal of this tree is due to occur on Saturday February 8th and it is also planned to plant new trees adjacent to this Beech tree current location in the future to compensate for its loss.
This stand-alone specimen tree sits on the southern side of the pathway which runs along the floodplain. The path meanders downwards from the Old church, toward the River Liffey and the weir located adjacent to the woodland walk. It is estimated that this tree was planted between 260 & 270 years ago and is a distinct feature amongst many park users.
Location = https://goo.gl/maps/wBUGVyXUv4rXECEM6.
Due to its age and longevity within the park, continuous monitoring and visual assessments have been undertaken as part of the park’s management plan, with remedial pruning works undertaken when required during this time. However, the last number of years has seen a further decline it the visual health of the tree. Due to its location along a pedestrian pathway of this public park, it is essential that safety is to the forefront of all decisions relating to park management. From a visual point of view, cavities are visible on the lower trunk of the tree, as well the presence of Ganoderma fungi bracket which (via delignification) can undermine the structural integrity of the internal wood.
Therefore, it was decided that a comprehensive assessment (PiCUS test) be undertaken to establish a stronger image of the tree’s internal health. The PiCUS Sonic Tomograph is an instrument for the detection and evaluation of decay and defects in standing trees. It is virtually non-invasive and is considered a comprehensive tool to accurately determine the health of a tree through a system of sonic sensors placed strategically around the tree trunk. Utilizing the sound wave measurements and the measured distances between the sensors, sound velocities are calculated. This data, then produces a coloured tomogram of the tree cross-section, which gives information about the presence of decay and defects within the tree.
In this particular case and due to the size of the Beech tree, two separate testing’s were undertake to ensure the clearest image was obtained. The first at 50cm from ground level and the second at 115cm. Following the PiCUS testing, it was projected that the current solid wood stood at 23% & 24% and therefore the only feasible option left is to remove the tree. (30% is the general guide for remaining solid wood for a tree to be viable to retain unfortunately).
The results of the testing crucially informed our decision while also providing significant graphical findings to support the necessity to remove. The planned removal of this tree is due to occur on Saturday the 8th February and will be undertaken by our operations crew. The work will involve the section felling of the tree with branches left where they fall (or in safe location close by) while the tree trunk will be reduced to a safe standing monolith.
Looking toward the future, the intention to reduce the tree down to a safe standing height will potentially allow us to create a sculpture at a later date. However, the feasibility of creating a sculpture on the standing monolith will depend on the condition of the remaining internal structure and therefore this will be investigated and assessed following the works. The principal objective of any sculpture is to honour the history of the park and commemorate the presence and historical value of this Beech tree within the antiquity of St Catherine’s Park. It is also planned to plant new trees adjacent to this Beech tree current location to compensate for its loss.
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