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Tree Pest and Disease Recovery

Highgate Cemetery is a well know North London burial ground housing graves across two distinctive areas known as the East and West cemeteries. The facility originally opened in 1839 as a private concern but went into decline in the 1970's as it was no longer commercially profitable. The Friends charitable trust rescued the cemetery in 1975 and have been battling ever since to reverse the damage. We worked as part of the Conservation plan team in 2017 and in 2020 we were asked to assess trees across the total 30 acre site for pest and disease symptoms and to propose workable solutions to any issues found.

Whilst the two halves of the cemetery are very different in layout, they both contain a broad range of tree species and many mature examples. Extensive secondary Ash woodland has developed naturally since the 1970's and this in particular requires proactive management in light of the threat of disease to Ash and also of the damage these self-set Ash are causing to graves and gravestones. 'Chalara Ash Dieback' is a fungal infection that infects via leaves and bark. Initially twigs and the stems start to die but with rapid progression over 2-3 years the whole tree and surrounding stock can easily be taken. A full plan of action has been provided with agreed dates for remedial work to commence.

We also found symptoms of other diseases such as Bacterial Canker of Ash, defoliation of Holly possibly caused by Phytothphora ilicis, Oak Processionary Moth and Bacterial Bleeding Canker of Horse Chestnut. Other potential problems were noted for the report such as Massaria disease of London Plane trees, Dutch Elm disease and possible disease and pests relating to Cedar. Whilst the latter do not pose a huge threat currently, some removal of trees is required along with stringent checks to monitor future development of symptoms.

Our vast knowledge base allows us to recognise symptoms quickly, identify the likely cause and work with our clients to create a manageable plan to solve immediate issues and build in future checks and actions for ongoing healthy trees. At Highgate, that plan is now in place and will continue to evolve over time to maintain a safe and beautiful area for families and visitors for many years to come.

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