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The Work of Long Standing Tree Warden Helps To Secure Future of Rare Butterfly

24 March 2021

A special tree has been planted in Hob Hey Wood, Frodsham.

Tom Blundell, a volunteer tree warden appointed by the Tree Council to care for local trees, has put it in the ground. 

Supported by the Friends of Hob Hey Wood, The Mersey Forest, Frodsham's Mayor and David Ellwand, Tree Warden Coordinator, an application was submitted to The Tree Council to mark the work of Tom. At the end of last year the news came that Tom had been awarded one of just thirty trees, a special variety called New Horizon, that is resistant to Dutch Elm Disease.

Tom, who has been a volunteer for decades, witnessed the mass dying off of trees in the 1970s. Millions of elm trees were wiped out by Dutch Elm disease. Alongside the British landscape changing drastically, butterfly species were also facing extinction as their natural habitat disappeared. 

In 2020 The Friends of Hob Hey discovered that a very rare butterfly, the White-Letter Hairstreak, was still living in the woods. 

Tom, who is now in his 80s, says:

"The new trees are 100% resistant to Dutch Elm disease. I thought if we could get one of the trees we could ensure the future of elms and White-Letter Hairstreaks in Frodsham's ancient woodland."

The new Elm has now been planted in the Hob Hey Wood in Frodsham. Clare Olver, from The Mersey Forest said:

"There are so many projects, large and small, happening across The Mersey Forest every day. This is a great example of a thriving woodland on our doorstep and how everyone can get involved at any stage of life."

The original plan to mark the planting with a ceremony was put on hold due to Covid restrictions. As a result, Tom and Mark O'Sullivan, Chair of Hob Hey Wood Friends Group, planted the tree in early March.

It is expected the tree will grow to up to 50 feet and in the process, produce many more disease-resistant elms. The hope is this will encourage a colony of the rare butterfly. 

If you do want to follow in Tom's footsteps, the Friends of Hob Hey Wood are keen to hear from you. Visit their website and they have an active Facebook Group. The group will be starting up again in May, so anybody interested you are interested can check them out here.  




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