Storm Arwen had a huge impact on Cumbria.
What was the response?
Firstly the priority was to restore power and access to Cumbria’s properties. This was a mammoth task. Safety was paramount for both public and contractors. Landowners needed to check the lines of footpaths, roads and bridleways to check for hanging limbs and disturbed root plates.
Windblown trees are dangerous. Wood is capable of huge tension, and changing the forces by removing limbs, moving surrounding trees or cutting into a trunk, can have unpredictable and catastrophic results. It’s often difficult to assess whether a tree’s root plate is secure and how the trees interact with one another. Ideally, do the work mechanically from within a steel cab. The operator needs to have the appropriate qualifications (chainsaw use on windblown trees is an advanced and specialist competency), but also have considerable experience – tackling these trees needs a plan!
In the medium term, the need is to assess the impact on woodlands. This is achieved best by plane or helicopter aerial survey across the whole of the area. Though the woodland may look devasted, the ecological/biodiversity impact of such a storm on the woodland system is minimal. If you’re able to resist ‘tidying up’; nature loves a mess! We would encourage you to retain as much dead and decaying wood as possible, as the ecosystem desperately needs it.
Aerial decaying wood is extremely valuable as well as decaying wood on the ground. Great for saproxylic insects, fungi, and good for the soil. Tangled brash on the woodland floor also encourages natural regeneration providing some protection from browsing herbivores. Holes in the canopy also provide light to the floor encouraging flora, baby trees, and the associated insect and birdlife.