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Residents to miss out on picking Christmas trees from Yateley Common

Due to a shortage of suitable Scots pine, Yateley Common Country Park has cancelled a popular tree and wreath event

Young pines growing on Yateley Common

People will not be able to pick their Christmas trees from Yateley Common this year following a shortage of suitable Scots pine.

Staff at Yateley Common Country Park have cancelled their popular trees and wreaths event, which gives families the opportunity to cut down their own Christmas tree each year for a small donation.

However, this year, the trees are said to be too big or too small and are spread over much of the common so would be impossible for the rangers to organise, especially when they are already stretched.

Phil Hayes, ranger at Yateley Common, said he and his colleagues had not taken this decision lightly and were extremely frustrated to cancel the event.

“We did a stock survey but there is not a great deal out there,” Mr Hayes said. “There are some huge trees but getting them off the common would be difficult. The last couple of years the event has depleted our stocks. This perhaps maybe the case for next year as well so that the trees can grow. We need a percentage of Scots pines on the common as part of the heathland habitat.”

Over one weekend every December, families were allowed to cut down a Scots pine from Yateley Common for £10 and make their own wreath for an additional £5.

The event proved so popular in previous years, people had to book a slot. Last year, 97 trees were removed as part of the rangers’ ongoing conservation works to restore the heathland habitat.

A total of 56 wreaths were made using natural material including willow coppiced from Zebon Copse Nature Reserve in Church Crookham. Last year more than £1,100 was raised to support the continuing works to maintain the common.

Encroachment of trees and scrub on to heathland areas poses a major problem. Without removal, tree species such as Scots pine can dominate, shading out the dwarf shrub community and resulting in a loss of many of the species associated with that community.

Mr Hayes’ colleague Nicola Buckland, who is ranger at Chobham Common in Surrey, said picking trees from the heathland was a more ‘sustainable’ and ‘environmentally friendly’ way of choosing a Christmas tree.

The event has been cancelled at Chobham Common as well for the same reason. “The events are really popular and people will miss having them this year,” she said. “They are part of our scrub clearance but this year we have just run out of trees to pick."



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