Experts at Edinburgh’s world-renowned botanic garden fear the destruction caused by 100mph winds last winter has left the attraction more vulnerable to future severe weather.
The Royal Botanic Garden suffered extensive damage by a storm on 3 January, 2012. About 600 glasshouse panes were lost, 34 trees were blown over and hundreds more shrubs and trees were damaged. A restoration appeal raised more than £15,000 from the public and about 95 per cent of the repair work has been completed.
But officials say the loss of many solid, well-established trees has resulted in the disappearance of crucial shelter at the garden, making it more exposed to high winds.
David Knott, curator of living collections, said: “I think it’s the collective gaps in the canopy that concern me. Vistas that were not evident last December quickly appeared in January.
“The concern that we have is that if you can see these new views, the wind will find its way through there.
“I’m quite pessimistic in thinking that perhaps with every wind or gale or storm- force wind that we get now, that damage and the gaps will be further widened – and then we’ll continue to sustain damage for a good long time in the future, perhaps tens of decades.”
Mr Knott said that last January’s storm was probably the worst in 40 years. “It was a really peculiar weather pattern that came through Edinburgh on that morning.
“Whether that’s once in 50 years or twice in five years, we don’t know. Until we can get trees to fill that void, I think we will be at the mercy of the elements.”