Nether Edge Elm Tree Shortlisted for national award!

White-letter hairstreak

Important message and good news from Paul Selby…..

Hi Ian

Hope you are well. You may or may not have heard about the Sheffield Elm being shortlisted for English Tree of the Year 2016, following my nomination.

See below weblink to the national BBC News article. It also featured on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning, and in the local press again.

I’d really appreciate it if you could vote for the tree yourself, and also spread the word to all your friends, family and contacts. Voting can be done via the following web address, and you have until 9th October to vote!

Thanks in advance for your support

Best wishes

Paul Selby

So…….go ahead and vote and get friends and family to do so as well!

Posted in Latest News | 13 Comments

Big Deer Watch in and around the Peak

Citizen Science Big Deer Watch in the Peak & surrounding areas 

Our ‘Big Red Deer Rut’ Recording

The ‘Eco-science in the Park’ project is headed by Professor Ian Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University, and supported by the British Ecological Society and the South Yorkshire Biodiversity Research Group, together with Sheffield Hallam University and  other partners.

Working with deer expert Andy Alder, we are involving local people in spotting and recording deer across the region. There will soon be an interactive guide on the  website too – so something to watch out for.

Breaking news: Red deer in particular, are spreading rapidly across the moors and bogs. In partnership with the British Ecological Society, Professor Rotherham’s team are organising a series of free events for our local citizen scientists i.e. ‘you’!

Events are planned for 28th September (White Edge), 5th October (Little Barbrook), 6th October (Chatsworth), and 28th October (Chatsworth). These will all focus on the spectacular autumn ‘rut’. See–history.html for full details and free booking.

The autumn rut – get involved!
We are looking for volunteers (our citizen scientists) to listen out for and to record for us the red deer stags bellowing and rutting across the region. Guidance will be given at the events on the website on how to do this, and there will be an easy-to-use recording form to set your observations in. This will help us find out more about where the deer are and how many there are.

Paul Biggs photo deer rut  8

The target area is all across the Peak and South Pennines and across the lowlands into North Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

The target time is from September through to November.

Your pictures and video clips – please send in clips and pics to go up on the website – there may be a prize or two!! – the pictures here are from local enthusiast Paul Biggs

[Contact us for more details]

To hear the deer rut:

Paul Biggs photo deer rut  7

Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment

Sheffield Tree Campaign back in the national news in the Guardian

Read Patrick Barkham on the Nether Edge elm……

Patrick Barkham in the Guardian 5th August 2016

Posted in Latest News | 6 Comments

Meet the Bog Mosses

Dr Paul Ardron explaining how to identify a bog mossDr Paul Ardron explaining the intricacies of bog moss identification

Meet the Bog Mosses 2016 Poster & Flyer

Join us on Wednesday 17th August at Longshaw in the Peak District – ‘Meet the Bog Mosses’ and discover the ecology, history and identification of these hugely important plants.


Difficult to identify, these mosses form peat and take up atmospheric carbon dioxide – and they hold back the flood-waters by absorbing rainwater.

They form fascinating wildlife habitats and are themselves incredibly interesting organisms. Amazingly in the Peak and Pennines, the bog mosses are staging a remarkable recovery…..


It is free to come and along and find out more – but please book – or tele[hone 0114 2724227


There is a second free event on Saturday September 3rd and then a programme of training workshops throughout the autumn. All are supported by the British Ecological Society.

Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment

The Dumb tree speaks……..

The attached clips are from fieldwork done with Paul Ardron and my Swedish colleague Rikard Andersson on ageing ancient trees in and around the Peak District.

The coring to count the annual rings is undertaken carefully to avoid damage to the tree, and most samples are of coppice re-growths or major branches.

We were amazed to hear the noise emanating from the tree – the result of 10,000s of tiny vessels of water- from the roots to the high canopy, snapping under the stress of the evaporative pull of the dry atmosphere [evapotranspiration] – fascinating – and audible from several metres away.

But watch out for the research outputs on our region’s trees as this work is providing a new insight into historic uses and the amazing ages of some trees and woods – in the meantime, listen to the oaks……


Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment

All aboard for the Hairstreak Express to High Huntingdon Elm

The Hairstreak Express


Wow, what a day and what an event. And yes, I got to see a White-letter Hairstreak Butterfly! It was very small, very high up in the tree canopy, and a bit far away and fleeting – but, indisputably, the real deal.


We had lots of people – local and from far and wide, and loads of media coverage too with Sheffield Live, BBC Look North, and the Sheffield Star etc.


So, what was it all about? This is a fantastic 100-year old specimen of a Huntingdon Elm, a planted variety that is more resistant than usual to the dreaded Dutch Elm Disease. It is also home to an elm-specific and therefore rather rare butterfly, the White-letter Hairstreak – all fantastic news, you would think for the tree rooted in the heartland of leafy urban Sheffield. Other records I know of have generally been out in the countryside or at least the urban fringe.

But here’s the rub, Amey and Sheffield City Council feel this magnificent tree is ‘disrupting the road and the pavement’ – and we all know what that means – doom and gloom for a tree now in excellent health and in the prime of its life!!

However, don’t fret because Amey will ‘....plant another one‘ – wow trees come 100-foot tall and ready to go as butterfly habitat – that certainly passed me by. Isn’t it amazing what you don’t know??!

P1710521   P1710540P1710545

Oh, and apparently Dave Dillner’s legal appeal has finally been turned down, because, guess what… the judge felt ‘Amey were planting replacements like for like…..and so what is the fuss about?’ As Charles Dickens wrote in Oliver Twist, “If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass—a idiot.” Oh too true!!


Come on Mr Judge – open your eyes and look at the real world here in Sheffield – I guess you don’t benefit from Amey where you live – just my hunch of course!

Better still, apparently Sheffield City Council have said that they ‘…...will trans-locate the butterfly colony‘ . Now there’s another trick I didn’t know about – I wonder how they will do that …… I wait and watch in wonder and awe!

Incidentally, the White-letter Hairstreak butterfly is a ‘Grade A Local Red Data Book Protected Species‘ for Sheffield – protected by……. you guessed….. Sheffield City Council. So, get out of that one guys……..

Back to more pleasant things and the excitement caused by the open-topped double-decker ‘Atlantean’ bus – just like being back on the school bus run in the 1970s! How exciting. An enthralled audience joined activities led by local campaigner and event organiser Paul Selby, with David Dillner, and a good turnout from local and national organisations and experts – The Woodland Trust, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, The Butterfly Conservation Society, and an authority on rare elms and disease-resistant varieties. There were lots of people and a good mix of adults and kids too.

Cars went passed with people waving and sounding their horns; and then almost threateningly for the old elm tree, an Amey van crept around the corner of Chelsea Road and down Union Road. It seemed to be spying on the proceedings, and to be frank, felt a little creepy!

P1710516  P1710554

In the heart of Nether Edge with tall ‘forest’ trees all around, the street trees here are part of a hugely valuable and irreplaceable ‘urban forest’, delivering biodiversity, urban greenery, flood and climate mitigation, health and well-being benefits, and adding value to homes, lives,and even to the local economy, Sheffield plc.

Long may this continue!!


Join us in October 2016 for ‘Action for Woods & Trees Part 2‘ – get engaged, get involved. You know it makes sense!

More details from:

Posted in Latest News | 1 Comment

Sheffield Street Trees – still controversial and expert advice still ignored!!

There are good engineering solutions to the disruption of footpaths and roads….it is simply that Amey are not using them!!

Technotronic just sent in a really pertinent comment, so I repeat the information verbatim:

Letter to THE STAR

The letter below arrived in my inbox on Sunday 24th July, 2016. The author sent it to The Star newspaper the same day. However, it remains unpublished. The author has given permission for me to share it here (below).

“Over several months, the Council have repeatedly, falsely claimed to have used Flexi®-Pave to retain healthy, structurally sound, mature highway trees. Flexi®-Pave is a product that can be used when resurfacing footways, as an alternative to tarmac. The key benefit is that when tree parts thicken – as they do each year – the product flexes rather than cracks, unlike tarmac. For this reason, it has been widely used elsewhere in other cities, to retain mature highway trees. A letter appeared in last Thursday’s Sheffield Telegraph, written by someone claiming to be an “independent arboriculturist”. I believe he is a sub-contractor on the city-wide, £2.2bn Streets Ahead highway maintenance project, working for the main contractor: Amey.

I was shocked and appalled by the implication that the slightest wound on a tree would be likely to result in “rapid decline” of the tree. For a tree, its bark is like skin; the wood is like flesh. Just like an animal, if wounded, in theory, the organism can become infected and a disease could result that could lead to death. However, like animals, plants have evolved ways of resisting infection and limiting its spread. They have also evolved ways of compensating for any decay, by reducing crown size and, through incremental growth, adding layers of biomechanically optimised wood, known as reaction wood. This strengthens affected regions and can compensate for cross-sectional loss; it is what enables plant parts to have a safety factor greater than that of most mammal bones. It is why you see many trees with large wounds or cavities (great for wildlife) and yet they remain perfectly healthy and their parts do not fail. It is why trees can receive multiple wounds when pruned, attacked by herbivores, otherwise damaged, and remain strong, healthy and safe.

Most people involved with tree care in Sheffield do not fulfil the British Standard requirements necessary to qualify as competent arboriculturists. An arboriculturist is defined (by BS 5837) as: “person who has, through relevant education, training and experience, gained expertise in the field of trees in relation to construction”. Only a small handful of people in Sheffield meet these criteria. An education and training deficit leads to misunderstanding and inappropriate comments, as well as bad policy and bad decisions that are not soundly based on available evidence, but: “unduly influenced by transitory or exaggerated opinions, whether formed by the media or vested interests.”

Provided Streets Ahead contractors comply with the current, widely accepted, nationally recognised good practice guidance and recommendations that they claim to comply with and aim to “build on” (e.g. BS5837 and guidance published by the National Joint Utilities Group and Trees & Design Action Group), there is no reason why mature highway trees cannot be safely retained, long-term, by use of products like Flexi®-Pave. Provided resurfacing works are adequately supervised on site by competent arboriculturists, and compliance with current good practice is specified, and adequately supervised & enforced, there is no “gamble” with public resources.

The Council & Amey repeatedly state that felling is a “last resort” and that they are willing to consider all other options to retain mature highway trees. However, on 19/2/2016, the Information Commissioner completed an investigation (Case Ref: FS50596905) which revealed that, over 3yrs in to the £2.2bn city-wide Streets Ahead project, neither Amey or the Council had ever commissioned or draughted any alternative highway engineering specifications for footway, edging (kerb) or drain construction for consideration as an alternative to felling, as a means to enable the safe long-term retention of valuable mature highway trees, and the range of valuable ecosystem service benefits they afford to the environment and communities each year. This revelation confirmed that felling is certainly not the “last resort” and that the Streets Ahead team have a long way to go before they can rightfully claim to comply with current good practice.

D.Long (BSc Hons Arb), Sheffield.

MY COMMENT: It still feels like nobody is listening – Amey & Sheffield City Council: ‘……….. is anybody out there??!’

Posted in Latest News | 3 Comments