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Tree-mendous legacy for Forest's retiring senior tree officer
Updated 11:25am Wednesday 4th June 2014 in News
As new jobs go it was hardly the easiest of starts.
Tree expert Bryan Wilson arrived in the New Forest just two weeks after the Great Storm of 1987 wreaked havoc in the area, destroying huge swathes of woodland.
It was a baptism of fire for the arboriculturalist, who had just left London to become head of the tree team at the district council.
He and his colleagues were stretched to the limit as they tried to cope with the aftermath of the worst storm in centuries.
Hurricane force winds felled thousands of trees at Exbury Gardens and other sites across the Forest, changing the face of the ancient landscape.
Mr Wilson, who has just retired after almost 30 years of caring for the area’s trees, said: “I arrived to 400 handwritten notes on my desk. I travelled all around the district and got to find my way around quickly.”
After almost 20 years with the council he transferred to the New Forest National Park Authority when it was set up in 2006.
His latest challenge involved the recent series of storms and floods that combined to produce the wettest winter on record.
Between October 2013 and January this year his team issued 160 notices ordering urgent repairs to protected trees, compared with just 30 notices during the same period in 2012 and 2013.
Trees are one of the Forest’s greatest assets – but Mr Wilson spent much of his time dealing with landowners who wanted to fell them.
He said: “I regret to say that all too often people’s view is ‘Don’t get me wrong, I love trees but.
“We have to use a lot of personal relationship skills to try and explain how people and trees can live together without detriment to either.”
Mr Wilson had no hesitation when asked to describe the most satisfying part of the job.
“It’s when you persuade someone who originally saw trees as a nuisance and an expense that there are other options,” he said.
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