Guernsey Press

Silver birch introduced at Le Guet are now thriving

New tree species which have been planted at Le Guet are thriving as local services aim to respect the pine woodland while encouraging new wildlife.

Andy McCutcheon from States environment services and Guernsey Trees for Life at Le Guet. Pictured behind him are some recently planted silver birch trees. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33192809)

Monterey pine mostly makes up Le Guet, but a few years ago some silver birch trees were planted and have thrived in the acidic soil.

‘4th Baron James de Sausmarez experimented by planting different types of pine and seeing which ones were best, and they came up with this one because it can stand salt and wind,’ said Andy McCutcheon from States environment services and Guernsey Trees for Life.

‘They didn’t think about the fact it was evergreen and doesn’t really support much in the way of wildlife, but it started a trend, which is why there are so many around.

‘Having said that, there is clearly a habitat for birds and wildlife here.’

Groups who work on maintaining Le Guet aim to keep the trees for as long as possible to respect the life cycle of a tree and the animals who use it at different phases, but manage Le Guet as an area which is safe for the public.

‘Le Guet is a pine woodlands and we want to respect that but at the same time get a bit more diversity,’ said Mr McCutcheon.

‘For the last three years we’ve found nooks and crannies where there is enough light and not too many weeds to try and establish new plantings, and we’re using a variety of species, including maritime pine, which isn’t native but is found in France, which is where we look for what wildlife and species the tree may attract, but we would probably want to sprinkle in other things as well.

‘We monitor how the site performs in terms of the existing trees and the new plantings.’

About 15 trees were lost during Storm Ciaran and another five in subsequent storms.

‘Some casualties have been from much smaller blows but it’s just part and parcel of what the area faces in the winter and occasionally in summer,’ said Mr McCutcheon.

A further 34 trees do not need to be felled but require works. Any felling or safety works on trees at Le Guet will take place later this year after the bird breeding season.