Sunday, 25 March 2007

No more beeches?

Tony Russell, former Head Forester of the National Arboretum at Westonbirt was on BBC's Gardener's Question Time today and suggested that we should all be planting non-native holm oak, sweet chestnut, and walnut etc. rather than beech and other species that might be susceptible to climate change, especially drier conditions.

This is reinforced by the Royal Horticultural Society who say on their web site.
"In the south and east, gardeners should stop planting beech for the long term, either as specimen trees or hedges. Tree of heaven, holm oak and eucalyptus will suit the site better now and are likely to pull through whatever climate change brings."

While it is true that many of our native plants may suffer in hotter, drier weather, I wonder if climate change predictions are really sufficiently robust to prescribe that beeches and other long-lived native species should no longer be planted. Tony Russell pointed out that beeches tend to flourish on thinner, drier soils: maybe they will do better on heavier, wetter soils in the future.

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