Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Big Tree Preservation Works this Week

Big Tree Preservation Works this Week
03 November 2017

Vital preservation works are due to be carried out on the Big Tree in Kirkwall next week.

The crown reduction and thinning work will prune the tree back and follows on from an expert survey of the tree which found that, although the tree was flourishing, the canopy of the tree was becoming too heavy for the main part of the tree to hold up, presenting a risk of branches breaking off.

Crown reduction and thinning reduces the density of the crown of the tree, reducing the amount of foliage and allowing more light through.  The work will be done by a qualified tree surgeon and done in such a way that maintains a balanced shape.  Whilst the work is being carried out the opportunity will be taken to do a further survey to see if more work is required.

Gavin Barr is Orkney Islands Council's Director of Development and Infrastructure Services. He said: "The Big Tree is an important Kirkwall landmark and we want to keep it in good condition and in place for as long as it remains safe to do so. This work is being done in accordance with our long term care objective for the tree in order to ensure its well-being, while protecting the public, and won't endanger it in any way."

The Big Tree, a 200 year old sycamore, is a well-known and much loved landmark in Albert Street in Kirkwall, used as a meeting place by generations of Orcadians.

It originally stood with two others in the grounds of a grand house. In the 1870s a new owner felled two trees causing public outcry which saved the third. As Kirkwall grew the Big Tree eventually found itself in a street rather than a garden.

In poor health due to its challenging location and its hollowed out trunk supported by a metal rod which the council installed as a support measure in 2009, the Big Tree nevertheless continues to find a special place in the hearts of local people, and was recently shortlisted in the Woodland Trust's ‘Scotland’s Tree of the Year Awards’.