The Lynchmere commons covers 300 acres of mixed heathland and woodland on the edge of West Sussex between Haslemere and Liphook. In 1998 the commons were purchased from the Cowdray Estate by a local society (The Lynchmere Society). At that time the commons were almost entirely very poor scrub woodland with only remnants of heath. Over the last 10 years a lot of progress has been made in clearing scrub and restoring areas of lowland heath with much of the work being carried out by volunteers.
I started working on the commons as a volunteer in 2000 to get experience in conservation work and as stress relief. I enjoyed it so much that now I help to manage the commons. Clearing fallen trees from paths and fencelines is one part of what I do on the commons. The wet weather this year has caused a lot of problems for trees. At some times of the year tree clearing can be on a regular basis especially with all the birch trees growing on the poor heathland soil (upper greensand of the Western Weald).
But the birch I cleared this morning had fallen because of a fungus in its roots. I think its a Ganoderma applanatum (or Artist’s Fungus) but I will be very happy to hear from anyone who can offer a more accurate diagnosis. Ganoderma rots the roots and base of the tree so it will fall very easily. You can see the bracket in the photo – brown top with white margin and white underside.
From the stump you can see the rot was quite well advanced in the base of the trunk (click on the image to enlarge it). Very little sound wood remained so the tree snapped off just above the base. This one went only a foot above the ground but when it pivots a few feet off the ground while being cut down its called a widow’s seat or barber’s chair , both references to the danger of being caught behind it when it goes.
As it happens I wanted some fresh birch for turning this week as I have some wood turning to do and some hook tools that were worked on at the weekend to try out. I managed to find a few lengths of the tree that might be useful for turning, the rest will go onto the firewood pile.