LABOUR AM, KEN SKATES, has called for more support for Wales’ ancient trees after it was confirmed on Thursday that the Pontfadog Oak, believed to be one of the oldest trees in Britain, collapsed in high winds.
Local folklore suggests the tree was over 1000 years old and was spared when King Henry II had his men cut down the Ceiriog Woods in 1165.
The ancient Welsh oak has not been the only old tree to suffer in the recent bad weather, other heritage trees in the Wrexham area have been lost or severely damaged in the snow and high winds.
The AM, who helped launch a Coed Cadw petition last year calling for a strengthening of Tree Preservation Order legislation and more support for private owners who have ancient trees on their land, said Wrexham had lost an ‘iconic’ piece of its local heritage.
Clwyd South AM KEN SKATES said:
“I am really so very sad to hear about the collapse of the Pontfadog Oak. We have lost one of the most important and iconic pieces of our local heritage here in Wrexham.
“The tragedy is that more could have been done to save it. If we had a comprehensive system of grant aid for such trees and a stronger set of powers which Natural Resources Wales or the local authority could utilise to help protect such trees, we could well have put in place strengthening work to save it.
“For tree owners with a lack of funds, there is currently no system in place to offer professional assistance and funding for necessary stabilisation and protection works. Though it had a Tree Preservation Order on it, this only prevented it being felled by a chainsaw. We need stronger powers.
“The recent snow has caused catastrophic damage at to many ancient and veteran trees in the Wrexham County Borough area including some at the Grade 1 Listed Capability Brown gardens in Ruabon, but this is definitely the worst news of all.
“I am hopeful we can try and save the fallen parts as part of an exhibition so we can at least let future generations know about the rich history of the Pontfadog Oak.”
The AM added:
“To me trees like the Pontfadog Oak are a hugely important part of our natural heritage and as important as Caernarfon Castle or St David’s Cathedral.
“As we have seen, an ancient tree like this can take hundreds of years to reach maturity, but it can all be lost in an hour. We are the guardians of these trees and they need greater protection, the same care and attention we give to the most treasured buildings or monuments in our communities.”