Is Utrecht’s most beautiful tree Doomed?

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It’s been standing there for almost two hundred years, but we now have to ask ourselves how much longer will the red beech tree near the Rosarium be able to survive?

Conservationists were attaching sensors to the trunk to see how the tree is doing and whether it is stable enough to stay in place. If not, it will inevitably have to be felled.

The iconic red beech at the roundabout at Prinsesselaan has been badly diseased for some time now, as it has a bad fungus growth around the trunk.

Tree specialist Frank van der Brink explained that it started with a soil fungus that had affected the trees root ball, which has then caused the black spots on the trunk. This will eventually become a parasitic fungi, which will affect the roots of the tree.

The Utrecht municipality must wait for the results of the tests and if the tree is no longer safe, then it will be unavoidable that it will have to be cut down.

Van den Brink states the obvious for tree lovers when he says that we do not want that.

Of course, if the beech is cut down, it will be replaced, but it will obviously take many years until it will be just as beautiful and iconic as the present elm. Utrechters know that it is one of the most beautiful trees in the city and will be sadly missed.

Ecologically the tree is even more important as if it is cut down we would need to replant thousands more trees and wait for as much as ten years to get the same effect on the environment as the lush branches of the present tree deliver.

The tree is important for the whole neighbourhood as it is a beautiful thing and a place that people visit or meet under. It is a place that is easily recognisable and a welcome venue for picnics and games for the family.

But there again, this is all part of natures rich pattern. Things will grow and things will die. Perhaps we should be planting more trees now rather than waiting for them to wither away.

Photograph: Creative Commons Zero – CC0. Max Pixel

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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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