The problem with oak trees is that they are just too good! Oak trees are the largest native broadleaf tree in the country and undoubtedly provide the greatest level of ecological, arboricultural, and landscape value. Therefore, they are often the first tree we want to introduce into a new development, where the situation allows.
One of the greatest challenges facing the oak tree is the Oak Processionary Moth (OPM). Most trees, and especially natives, suffer from one disease or another and the OPM is devastating the oak tree population, particularly in the south-east of the country.
As such, DEFRA (the governmental Department for Environmental, Food, and Rural Affairs) has been publishing guidance recently (latest update March 2023), restricting the movement of oak trees, hoping to reduce the spread of the OPM.
The link below takes you to the latest map, identifying the different management zones.
The restriction of movement still allows for oak trees to be grown in nurseries, specified in planting schemes, and planted in new developments, however, the control of where these trees come from and go to and who can supply them is now carefully controlled. This will undoubtedly put up the cost of providing these trees, which needs to be considered by developers as the wider costs of the landscape are significantly increasing along with the rest of the market.
Hopefully, the oak will not suffer to the extent the elm has done in the past, as there is very little in comparison to a glorious and majestic Oak in full leaf.