Posted on Tuesday 14th December 2021
Artificial jumps previously dug out and created among the vulnerable ancient oaks at Brocton Coppice.
Winter work is underway to protect ancient oak trees from vandalism and invasive species.
Birch trees among the oaks at Brocton Coppice are being felled to create light and space for the special trees, some of which are up to 600 years old.
And the fallen birch trees are being left to decay across unauthorised trails in a bid to prevent further damage being caused by mountain bikes, off-road motorbikes and quad bikes.
Victoria Wilson, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities and Culture, said:
The oaks at Brocton Coppice are remarkable; many are two or three centuries old while some date back to the time of King Henry VIII.
Mountain bikes are allowed on the paths and bridleways, while no motorised vehicles are allowed at all, but we’re finding that people are digging and creating ramps and jumps and racing through the trees.
The problem is that the roots are very shallow and quite close to the surface, so both digging up the soil, or compacting it by riding over it regularly will cause damage and they’re so sensitive that we’re repairing damaged trees by hand.”
There are promoted mountain bike trails on neighbouring Forestry England land at Birches Valley and mountain bikers can use bridleways across Cannock Chase, including through Brocton Coppice.
Anyone in the Brocton Coppice area, whether on foot, bike, or horseback is asked to keep to the tracks to avoid compacting the soil and help care for these ancient trees.
Not only are the ancient oaks important in their own right, but they also provide a home to rare bats, birds, beetles and fungi.
Although vulnerable to root damage, the trees can also be weakened by sudden changes to their environment which renders them more vulnerable to disease and rapid deterioration.