Letter: Royal oaks as hosts

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Sir: Last Friday, you reported plans by the Crown Estates to fell an 'untidy' avenue of old trees in Windsor Great Park ('Royal tree- felling plan divides conservationists', 11 September). Your article rightly stressed that mature trees in centuries-old parkland are host to a number of rare species of insects and fungi requiring the continuity provided by this environment and not found elsewhere.

By an ironic coincidence, the felling plans became public in the very week that Kew Gardens was hosting a Congress of European Mycologists. On the day before your report appeared, participants from some 20 European countries visited Windsor expressly to study these fungi.

A major theme of the congress was fungal conservation, and for the first time a European Red Data List was issued of threatened fungi. These are species at some risk of extinction not just in Britain but throughout their European range. The list includes several species known at Windsor but at very few other British sites. For these, as for most species on the list, the danger comes from habitat loss rather than from picking for the table.

Admittedly the proposed felling involves only a small proportion of the old oaks at Windsor. Even so, such action on Crown land would be a clear step in the wrong direction, and scarcely the royal example we might hope for in maintaining the biodiversity of Britain and, ultimately, of the world.

Yours faithfully,

ALICK HENRICI

London, W11

12 September

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