Planting a tree and helping the environment, for prosperity, for your grandchildren or for whatever reason, always seems to be a very worthwhile thing to do. Like others thinking in the same vein, that’s exactly what we have done over the years and it was with considerable disappointment on inspecting some of them a couple of weeks ago to find they had been through a torrid time. Lots of chewing and bark removal had occurred to the poor young saplings: something had to be done. The first job was to find the culprit. Last Monday I woke up early and down to the plantation I went to try to catch the tree maimer in the act, or so to speak. After about ten minutes, a troublesome threesome came into play straight up to the trees and started their tree damaging work. Muntjacks. I hit a stick up against the tree I was standing against and they ran off down the ride. ‘That won’t stop them for long,’ I thought. As I started to walk back, I spotted them again setting about another unsuspecting young beech. Under more intensive observation, I noticed the beech and ash were the muntjacks’ favourites, the oak, chestnut and hawthorn were less to their liking. I was thoroughly stumped as to what to do. I looked over to the two dogs, Mitch and Shep, laying about on some old hessian sacking type material – this gave me a marvellous idea. Mitch and Shep were not best pleased with sharing their bedding. “It is the middle of summer so a little less bedding will do you no harm, boys,” I reasoned as Shep gave me a disapproving look. That evening, I ripped the hessian into strips and wrapped a length around each badly nibbled tree trunk. Thankfully, the result up to now has been really quite encouraging, whether it the smell of the dogs the muntjacks don’t care for or the coarse texture of the material. For whatever reason, they are leaving the saplings in peace and are nibbling the grass and other flora in between the trees. Much more sensible.
One of England's finest emblems: the oak tree.