Fears over early autumn across Kelburn Estate

Published: 15 Jun 2011 12:300 comments

Fears have been expressed over "early autumn" as extreme weather has led to trees having turned brown across the local area.

Trees at Portencross affected by the problem

Extreme and unusual weather conditions have damaged hundreds of thousands of trees in central and southern Scotland, giving the impression that autumn has come early.

The Forestry Commission has received calls from landowners and members of the public worried that leaves on trees have turned brown in recent weeks, with the appearance that they are ready to shed several months ahead of schedule. Some callers were concerned trees were diseased.

The "browning" phenomenon was caused by exceptionally strong winds in the final week of May which drove salt laden sea air inland, causing a scorching effect. Severe winter frosts earlier in the year have also contributed to the effect.

Those worst affected include broadleaves species, larches, pines and other conifers. At Kelburn Estate, hundreds of trees have been affected, including Limes, Beeches and Horsewoods.

Among Kelburn's prized collection are two 1000 year-old Yews and a Weeping Larch, which covers a quarter of an acre, all of which are included in the Forestry Commission's list of Scottish 'heritage' trees. There is also a 200 year-old Monterey Pine, the oldest and tallest example of the species in Scotland.

They escaped the worst of the damage and estate managers are refusing to panic, confident that those which have been scorched will recover.

"I've never seen this effect on such a scale and so early in the year," said Cath Seeds, head ranger at the estate. "Virtually every broadleaved species that is exposed to the Firth of Clyde has been affected."

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