by Ian Dow
KFT Forester & fungi lover
If a tree falls or blow over in the woods there is a decision to be made on how best to deal with it - do we extract the timber for milling and firewood or leave it where it is to provide ecological benefits? Here's the story of how we decided to deal with a Sycamore that blew over in the Policy Woods in 2016.
At the time we were aware that the tree had already been colonised by a variety of Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster mushroom). So we decided to log and stack the crown so that the branch wood could remain in the woodlands to create an easily accessible wild harvest of Oyster mushrooms, a common edible mushroom, at ground level (often, and in the case of this tree, Oyster brackets are found out of reach high up in the tree). We then winched the main stem (of considerable girth, seen in the background of image) and rootplate back up to the vertical with the objective of creating standing deadwood habitat.
The story of this Sycamore tree offers a small window into the potential that foresters have to guide and manipulate their timber resource in non traditional ways that can benefit woodland ecology, increase biodiversity, accelerate soil creation and encourage people out to enjoy and make use of their woodland resource.
SAFETY NOTE: There are a few closely related species that can be hard to distinguish from oysters. So it's helpful to bring someone knowledgeable when searching for them in the woods.