This is an experiment in conservation farming. Pear trees that became redundant were grubbed in summer 2020 because leaving them unsprayed in the ground risked spreading pests and diseases into the nearby commercial orchards. Normally, the pear trees would have been burnt, as this is the most economical way to clear the ground, but this would release hundreds of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere (burning 1 kg of wood produces approximately 1.8kg of CO2), so we looked for a more imaginative solution.
Instead, we are trialling this plot with retaining the tree bodies and allowing them to decay naturally. Already, birds are making use of the trees as refuges, and insects too. Over time, woodboring insects and saprophytic fungi will break the trees down naturally and return their nutrients to the soil. During this process, bramble and scrub will establish, using the trees as a matrix on which to climb. As the wood at the bottom slowly sinks into the earth, it will create the ideal conditions for the larvae of stag beetles to develop.
We have no clear idea how this space will develop, although we believe that it should become an interesting and biodiverse area over time. How the land responds to what we have done so far might shape where we take the Dead Tree Wall and land to the south of it in the future.
The decaying trunks are an ideal place to find common lizards basking in the sun.
But, don’t climb on the dead trees while you are looking.
The wall is not a stable structure so, for their safety, please don’t allow children to scramble on it.
Important: the adjacent orchards are food production sites. Please help us avoid contamination, by keeping dogs on a lead and clearing up after them.