FoEP: Improving the Park for the benefit of the whole community
At one time it was indeed generally believed that ivy was bad for trees and most woodland managers wanted to get rid of it. However, the more common view today is that ivy should only be removed under certain circumstances. According to the RHS website (https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=192) "Ivy growing on trees is often thought to be a serious problem, endangering the health of even very large trees. However, its presence on the trunk is not damaging and where it grows into the crown this is usually only because the trees are already in decline or are diseased and slowly dying."
From time to time, the Friends of Eastfield Park receive comments about ivy growing on trees in Eastfield Park. Usually the comments suggest that the ivy is damaging trees and should be removed. This issue was quite controversial in the early days of the FoEP but today we follow the advice of organisations such as the Woodland Trust, the Wildlife Trust, the National Trust, the Royal Horticultural Society and ArborEcology, and only remove ivy in exceptional situations.
Click pictures for larger view.
The ArborEcology website (http://www.arborecology.co.uk/) has an interesting article on ivy ('Ivy - Friend or Foe') which explains that although ivy has a bad reputation and is commonly thought to kill trees, it is not parasitic and does not directly affect the health of the trees it climbs. The article goes on to explain that it is mainly through competition for light and other natural resources that ivy affects the health of trees. If ivy becomes established in the crown of a tree, it is more likely to be a sign of stress than a cause of it. Most healthy crowns will let insufficient light through for the ivy to grow vigorously but in the case of a diseased or dying tree, the ivy’s more vigorous growth allow it to smother the tree. The bushy adult growth will then have a tendency to make the tree top heavy, making it more likely to fall, particularly during adverse weather conditions.
But why not get rid of it anyway? Well, apart from the cost involved in both time and effort, it must be realised that ivy provides an extremely important habitat and food source for animals, helping to maintain the Park's biodiversity. The leaf-covered stems winding their way up the trunks of trees provide shelter for birds and bats, not to mention an innumerable host of insects and other smaller creatures. In autumn, the ivy flowers provide one of the year's last sources of nectar and pollen, helping to build up the reserves of overwintering insects. The berries, though poisonous in large quantities, provide food for birds in spring and the buds and leaves are fed on by a number of insects, including the Holly Blue (Celastrina argiolus) one of the Park's most beautiful butterflies.
So should we ever remove ivy? Sometimes, a professional assessment will reveal that it is right to remove ivy. It can spoil the appearance of ornamental trees in parks and, as mentioned above, it can make trees top heavy and more likely to be blown down by strong winds. It can also make it difficult to carry out safety checks on trees. In the past the FoEP has agreed to remove ivy from some of the trees along Apple Tree Walk but we have been reluctant to remove it from trees in the spinneys. Now that Northampton's parks are being managed by a new company (idverde) we expect them to play a more active part in the maintenance of both trees and the ivy growing on them.
Ivy stems growing on a tree in Lakeview Spinney in Eastfield Park. The cracks and crevices provide cover for bats, birds and invertebrates
Ivy flowers provide one of the year's last sources of nectar and pollen, helping to build up the reserves of overwintering insects.
Holly Blue butterfly in Eastfield Park. Larvae of the first generation feed mainly on holly but the second generation uses a range of food plants including ivy.
The FoEP Committee approved a complaints policy at their August meeting. Fortunately, we don't get many complaints but it's good to have a policy for dealing with the few we do get. Do remember, though, you can let us have your comments (positive or negative) at any time without making a formal complaint.
To download a copy of the complaints policy click the box below:
The FoEP Chair, Vic Smith, has also been working on a revised constitution for the FoEP. We announced that we would do this at the last AGM and the new one will be considered at the next AGM in February 2019.
Nineteen adults and five children took part in the Autumn Tidy-up on 29th September between 2.00 and 4.00 pm. The group put in over 34 hours of combined effort and collected a staggering amount of rubbish: 32 bags of refuse plus some larger items including folding steps, a small folding table, a bicycle wheel, a car wheel (without tyre), a scooter and an inspection chamber cover. Many of the larger items were taken from the lake. A big 'thank you' to everyone involved! It was great work and a great afternoon's achievement!
The Tidy-up was only concerned with litter picking and rubbish removal but we are planning a conservation/gardening day on 27th October when we hope to plant spring bulbs and add some chippings to informal pathways.
Other websites with information about ivy on trees:
Constitution & Policies