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Anti-ivy league?

PUBLISHED: 22:17 07 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 March 2010

MISGUIDED nature lovers were today the prime suspects responsible for attacking ivy along ancient footpaths in the Dedham Vale area.

The plants, which provide a valuable habitat for animals and birds, have been deliberately slashed at the stem and stripped from the trees along Cradle Lane, a footpath linking East Bergholt and Dedham.

MISGUIDED nature lovers were today the prime suspects responsible for attacking ivy along ancient footpaths in the Dedham Vale area.

The plants, which provide a valuable habitat for animals and birds, have been deliberately slashed at the stem and stripped from the trees along Cradle Lane, a footpath linking East Bergholt and Dedham.

The country lane, reputedly used by artist John Constable as a lad on his way to grammar school in Dedham, will soon look unsightly as the severed ivy turns brown and dies off, warned National Trust officer, Martin Atkinson.

"Some people don't like to see ivy growing up the trees because they think it damages them, but this is largely a myth. Killing ivy is not something we would condone," said the National Trust property manager for Essex and South Suffolk.

"I don't want this person or persons doing it anymore."

The ivy, some of which is nearly 40-years-old, provides a good shelter for wildlife because it is evergreen. Flowers are an important source of nectar late in the year and hungry birds tuck into ivy berries in winter, he explained.

However the beleaguered plant labours under a common misconception that it strangles its host. This is probably because it thrives on trees that are old or in poor health because the leaf canopy is thinner and people often think it is the ivy causing the damage.

The National Trust, which bought more than 100 acres of land in the East Bergholt parish just over a year ago, were alerted to the damage a few days ago when a message was posted on their website asking why the ivy had been cut.

Mr Atkinson visited the site and was horrified to find that the ivy, some of which was so old the stem was as thick as a man's arm, had been deliberately cut just above the ground.

There are only two occasions when conservationists would cut ivy, he explained. Trees in public areas are often monitored, for example in case loose branches were in danger of falling on passers-by, and ivy is sometimes removed from the tree if it is masking the survey.

The plant is also sometimes removed from historic buildings in case it's growth damages the fabric of the structure.

Anyone with information or who has spotted ivy being cut back at National Trust sites should contact Martin Atkinson on 01206 299056.

WEBLINK:

www.nationaltrust.org.uk


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