TREES loved by Queen Victoria will be stripped from a woodland in Herefordshire in a bid to save native species.

Western Hemlock, a coniferous tree native to the Pacific north-west of America has proliferated on Ancient Woodland sites in the Aymestrey area, according to draft minutes from a recent parish council meeting.

Hereford Times:

The fast-growing, non-native trees have grown where woodland has been clear felled, and are dominating the woodland, the minutes said, with concerns raised that if it is not removed, it will be harder to re-establish native broadleaf trees.

According to the Woodland Trust, Western Hemlock was introduced to Britain in the 1800s.


But despite landscapers and even Queen Victoria, who asked for its name to be changed in honour of her late husband Albert, falling for its drooping branches of soft needles, the tree casts "such a heavy shade that not much can live beneath it", the Woodland Trust said.

The tree is mainly grown for timber and wood pulp in the UK, the Woodland Trust said, while also featuring as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens.

Hereford Times:

There is a plan to reduce or remove these trees detailed in the Shobdon and Wigmore Forest Plan 2017 to 2027, which states that "areas containing western Hemlock have been prioritised for clearfelling and reversion to native woodland. By 2027 areas clearfelled and reverted back to a native condition will amount to around 55Ha. A further 5-10Ha will be managed through thinning aiming to achieve a native content of 80 per cent plus by 2027.”

But, the minutes from Aymestrey Parish Council's February meeting revealed, councillors are not aware of any action having been taken to date.

The council resolved to contact the Forestry Commission to raise concerns on the "continued proliferation" of the trees and to find out when they will be cleared.