Ecologists have warned against cutting down ancient forests and moving them to nearby fields to make way for HS2. This is a fundamentally flawed idea with no strong evidence.
The owners of ancient forests in Cubbington, Warwickshire are embracing the loss of 3.7 acres of trees and warn that the area means "everything" to the community as the land is often used to disperse people's ashes . Earlier this week, one of the UK's oldest pear trees was felled to make way for the project.
The chiefs of the railway line, which will connect London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, say the forests will not be destroyed as their soil will be shifted to other locations, including an adjacent field.
Protest banners were hoisted near the old forest in Cubbington on Tuesday when a 250 year old pear tree was felled to make way for HS2. The bosses of the project say that wildlife can be moved effectively through a method known as translocation
Protests against HS2 took place in forests along the developing railway line on October 9, including in Great Missenden (see picture). Experts warn that translocation is "like tearing up a masterpiece and throwing pieces of it into a new art installation."
Once the soil is moved, seedlings and bulbs are replanted while ponds, reptile beds, and bat boxes are installed to aid in the return of wildlife.
Sam Whittall, an ecologist on the HS2 project, told the BBC, "We want to create the same living space … the idea is to move this living space from A to B."
However, the project accepts that there is a lack of long-term research to demonstrate the effectiveness of the method.
& # 39; The final option & # 39;: What is translocation?
The Wildlife Trusts say translocation is the "best attempt" to mitigate the effects of ancient forest removal.
The process involved moving plants, soil, and stumps that can regrow like hazelnut and elm trees, along with dead wood, to a nearby location, typically another wood or field.
The uprooted plants and trees are then replanted in the hopes that they can regrow, and supportive devices are installed to encourage local wildlife to move into the new forests.
The Wildlife Trusts have raised concerns about the program.
Its website states, “It is impossible to recreate ancient forests because it is the soil structure and ecosystems that have built up over hundreds of years that make them so unique.
"Hence, the Wildlife Trusts generally consider translocation to be the absolute last resort."
Forests relocated as part of the Channel Tunnel development in Folkestone are believed to have preserved around 70 percent of their ancient forest species, particularly the soil flora.
A study carried out 25 years after the move found that the "new community of forest is vastly different from the original, mainly because soil conditions at the receptor site are drier".
David Coomes, professor of forest ecology and conservation at the University of Cambridge, said using translocation was like tearing up a Turner masterpiece and throwing small pieces of it into a new art installation and hoping people wouldn't notice the difference. .
He added, “There are intricate networks and they take a long time to come together – hundreds of years – especially the three-dimensional structure of the forest, the trees with bat hollows, the houses for many different mushrooms and many different insects. & # 39;
The experts Dr. Mark Everard and biologist Merlin Sheldrake also warned it could disrupt local wildlife.
Only 2.5 percent of the UK's land is covered in ancient forests, which must be at least 1,600 years old to earn the title.
According to the BBC, more than 40 designated areas in ancient forests will be affected by the development of HS2.
A statement on the Woodland Trust website said: “While we are in favor of environmentally friendly transport and not fundamentally against high-speed rail projects, we are firmly against the HS2 route.
& # 39; We believe the impact of the HS2 route on ancient forests and trees in the UK countryside is totally unacceptable.
"Any transportation system that destroys irreplaceable habitats like ancient forests can never be called 'green'."
Wildlife Trusts has similar concerns, describing the translocation as the "absolute last resort". She adds that it is "impossible" to recreate ancient forests as it is the soil structure and ecosystems that have built up over hundreds of years that are unique ".
A statement posted on the website said: "The success or the opposite of relocated forests is still not well understood as many relocations in the past have not been well monitored or the results published."
The felled pear tree had stood for 250 years. While bosses support relocation, they accept that there is little evidence that it will be effective in the long term
The HS2 route would initially connect London and Birmingham on the second phase of the project and then head north to Manchester and Leeds
Last week ministers were told that the first phase of the controversial rail line could cost £ 800 million more than planned.
Just six months after a budget increase, the total projected cost for the first stage of the high-speed line rose by £ 20.6 billion to £ 43 billion.
In a written statement to Parliament, HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said that half of that number was due to the preparation of the construction route, which was "more challenging than expected".
HS2 would allow trains to travel at speeds of up to 250 miles per hour. That would mean much faster travel between major UK cities. The graphic shows the times for HS2 passengers (in red) versus the current times (in blue).
HS2 activists were in Denham on October 9 to protest the line earlier this month. The Woodland Trust has spoken out against the bullet train
What is HS2 and how much does it cost?
HS2 (High Speed 2) is the construction of a new high speed line between London, West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester.
The line is to be built in a & # 39; Y & # 39; configuration. London is at the bottom of the "Y", Birmingham in the middle, Leeds in the top right and Manchester in the top left.
Work on Phase One began in 2017 and government plans call for the line to be operational by 2026.
The HS2 project is run by High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. developed.
The cost of the project has risen sharply from an original £ 32.7 billion in 2010 to a projected cost of £ 56 billion last year. A recent review estimated the cost could reach £ 106 billion with some extreme projections suggesting it could reach £ 150 billion. However, the government's forecast is between £ 72 billion and £ 98 billion.
This includes the need to remove more asbestos than expected.
Another "significant cost pressure" of £ 400 million was also noted in the development of designs for the Euston station.
Mr. Stephenson warned that further research "may identify further pressures" will be conducted.
In November 2013, the estimated cost of the first stage of HS2 was £ 19.4 billion, according to a parliamentary session.
A full business case was approved in April, targeting £ 40 billion in 2019 – an increase of £ 20.6 billion.
A transport ministry spokesman said HS2 Ltd is expected to continue delivering Phase 1 at the "target cost" of £ 40.3 billion.
The cost of the entire project has increased – from a planned £ 36bn in 2012 to an estimated £ 106bn now.
The 'budget' for the first phase is £ 44.6 billion including a government withheld quota of £ 4.3 billion.
The DfT spokesman added, "As construction continues, this government is relentlessly focusing on cost control to ensure that this ambitious new railroad delivers its many benefits to taxpayers at good value for money."
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