Plan of action to protect Fife’s oldest tree

The Spanish chestnut tree in the grounds of Balmerino Abbey.
The Spanish chestnut tree in the grounds of Balmerino Abbey.

Action is to be taken to protect the oldest tree in the Kingdom following fears its condition has deteriorated because of the hot weather over the last few months.

The Spanish chestnut tree in the grounds of Balmerino Abbey is believed to be around 400 years old – making it one of the oldest in Scotland.

The National Trust for Scotland says the tree has been under stress during the heatwave but that the general deterioration of the tree could have been caused by its old age.

Colin Wren, gardens and designed landscapes manager, explained: “Removal of trees has to be done gradually as they actually form a windbreak around the chestnut. The ultimate objective is create a ‘halo’ around the Chestnut that should improve the light and moisture reaching it.

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“A phased approach will begin with the removal of the sycamore on the side of the chestnut that is suffering most, as well as trimming back branches on another.

“The reason for adopting a cautious approach is that any sudden change in environment might well be very damaging to a tree as old as the chestnut.

“The reason why no action can be taken at the moment is because permission had to be granted by Fife Council for the removal of the Sycamore and the lopping of the other tree – and it took a few weeks for this to be processed.

Also, a condition has been set by the Council that no work can commence until the season for nesting birds is over, meaning we can’t begin until October.”