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Queen Beech

Sarah Newton is a guest writer and tree campaigner in Huddersfield. She recognises the importance of trees in our towns and cities and started locally when Kirklees Council first threatened to chop all the trees down in her street. You can join her campaign on Facebook on the link below.

Local campaigners work tirelessly and Sarah's campaign Save the Trees Kirklees has a growing number of followers on Facebook- over 320 at last count- as the council attempt to fell even more beautiful trees in a road-widening scheme on Edgerton Rd in Huddersfield. This is one of the main routes into the town from the M62 and I used to walk and drive down there all the time. It always seemed like there was a magical green canopy over it in summer. True, there were queues of cars but I never minded waiting there when I was a driver; the good thing was that the trees were also able to absorb all the pollution from the fumes. It was always a pleasant walk. The council now want to widen the road and all of that will be gone. It matters.

Trees are the lungs of the Earth. We need them and some have been around for hundreds of years, some even thousands. The oak tree was especially prized by the Druids as King of the Woods and beech was Queen. Beech symbolises femininity, abundance, prosperity, wisdom and generosity of spirit and so was also often worn as a lucky charm. People also ate beech nuts and used the bark to make poultices to reduce swelling. The shapes of the branches were said to inspire vaulted cathedral roofs as they reach loftily towards the sky. You see, humans and beech trees have a long relationship that stretches way back through time.

All trees are home to wildlife and the beech tree more than most. The Woodland Trust says "Because beech trees live for so long, they provide gnarled and knotted habitats for many deadwood specialists, such as hole-nesting birds and wood-boring insects. The bark is often home to a variety of fungi, mosses and lichens". Truly beneficial to the ecosystem.

Here's Sarah's story.

Queen Beech, she is at least 200 years old, battered by storms and a little neglected, limbs heavy with ivy. Mostly she is ignored, her bulk hidden by rhododendrons but I know she is there, she is my secret, every time I pass by, I say “Hello,” quietly to myself.

She stands huge and quiet in the darkness of Blacker Road Woods in Huddersfield. She has seen the Victorian Villas grow old, seen cars replace carriages, seen out two World Wars. I’m very proud to stand under her cathedral like branches in this photograph. You can find her on The Woodland Trust ancient tree inventory now, so whatever happens there is a record she was there.

If Kirklees Council get their way she will soon to be chopped down to widen a road junction. This is just one of 126 wonderful trees, just like Queen Beech, that could soon be gone forever.

Please support our campaign to save Edgerton Road trees in Huddersfield. You can find Save the Trees Kirklees on Facebook and Twitter.

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