Ivy proves a growing worry at beauty spot
AN ivy infestation is threatening dozens of mature trees along a famous Capital nature path.
Experts have warned that the local authority must carry out an urgent audit of the woodlands along the Water of Leith walkway to ensure the safety of pedestrians.
One ivy-covered tree has already toppled over near a beauty spot in Roseburn, blocking the stream and sparking fears of flooding.
Dr Richard Ennos, of Edinburgh University’s biological sciences department, today urged city leaders to launch an investigation into the potentially dangerous situation.
The forestry expert suggested the widespread removal of ailing trees was likely to be the only option.
Dr Ennos said: "Ivy wouldn’t grow to a heavy extent on a healthy tree and I wouldn’t expect a tree to come down unless it was rotten. The main concern has to be trees falling on people. That’s what the council has to be worried about.
"Unfortunately, it’s often tough to tell from the outside of a tree whether it is rotten."
Ivy generally targets only elderly, diseased or dying trees, which may already be unstable. But the bushy adult growth has a tendency to make trees top heavy, making them more likely to fall.
The plant can also act as a "sail" during strong winds, potentially bringing damaged trees down.
Dr Ennos added that, because ivy boasts a "incredibly tenacious system" used to cling to the bark of trees, it was extremely difficult to remove from trunks. Veteran city campaigner Ronnie Guild today echoed the call for action.
Mr Guild recently told Edinburgh City Council about the problem after spotting an ageing ivy-covered tree that had plunged into the river near Murrayfield Avenue.
He said: "
The Water of Leith walkway is a fantastic asset and trees are central to it.
"But for a long time many of the fine trees above the walkway have been disfigured and threatened by ivy growing up their trunks. They are being completely smothered. These are creeping things that gradually get worse. The council should be doing something."
A section of the route near Dean Cemetery is also among the black spots where residents fear trees are being "choked".
A spokeswoman for the city’s Royal Botanic Garden said ivy typically did not pose a problem for healthy trees, but admitted its presence could prevent officials from identifying problems in less healthy trees.
She added: "Generally speaking, ivy doesn’t do much damage, provided it doesn’t cover the ends of branches. It could act as a sail and during strong winds can increase the chances of a tree going over.
"Forestry Commission officials stressed that ivy also provides food and shelter for a wide range of birds and insects.
City leaders today stopped short of ordering a full audit of the trees along the walkway, but vowed to monitor the situation closely.
A council spokeswoman said: "Ivy is an important wildlife habitat that increases bio-diversity in the surrounding area. But we will identify trees that may be at some risk due to the increased weight burden posed by ivy."
It is thought that ivy will now be removed from the base of some trees.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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