Tree surgeon ‘mistakenly’ chopped down one of Britain’s first redwoods

Tree surgeon ‘mistakenly’ chopped down one of Britain’s first redwoods

Tree surgeon, 50, ‘mistakenly’ chopped down one of Britain’s first ever giant redwoods that had stood for 176 years in ancient woodland to clear space for housing estate, court hears

  • Tree surgeon chopped down one of Britain’s first redwood trees ‘by mistake’ 
  • Arwyn Morgan, felled the 90ft tree at the Penllergaer estate in Swansea
  • But there was a tree preservation order in place to stop in being chopped down
  • Morgan pleaded guilty to contravening a tree preservation order
  • The firm who are developing the site and company boss Fiorenzo Sauro have pleaded not guilty

A blundering tree surgeon chopped down one of Britain’s first ever giant redwoods ‘by mistake’ 176 years after it was planted, a court heard.

Self-employed contractor Arwyn Morgan, 50, felled the 90ft tree at the Penllergaer Estate, Swansea, which dates back 1842, to make way for new houses.

But there was a tree preservation order in place to stop the redwood and 70 other trees being chopped down.

The magnificent high tree was planted 10 years before redwood seeds are credited with being brought to Britain from America.


Self-employed contractor Arwyn Morgan, 50, felled the 90ft tree (right) at the Penllergaer Estate, Swansea, which dates back 1842, to make way for new houses

The tree was chopped down ‘by mistake’ by building firm Enzo’s homes – who are developing 80 houses at the site next to the woods (shown)

It was planted by keen botanist John Dillwyn Llewelyn who imported trees from all over the world.

And the sprawling redwood grew 90ft high and five metres in circumference at the forest site in South Wales.

Morgan was contracted to carry out the work by company Enzo Homes Ltd.

Prosecutor Annabel Graham Paul said Swansea council received an anonymous phonecall in November last year saying trees had been felled.

The sprawling redwood (shown) grew 90ft high and five metres in circumference at the forest site in South Wales

Environment bosses are investigating after the historic 176-year-old tree (pictured) brought from North America was felled at a new housing estate

Redwood: Colossus of the trees

Redwoods are the largest and tallest trees in the world.

The largest is General Sherman, located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, California.

It is it is the largest known living single stem tree on Earth and stands at 83.8 metres (275 ft), with a diameter of 7.7 metres (25 ft). It is estimated to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old. 

Native to California and parts of China, the redwood was discovered by plant collector William Hobb, who travelled to the States from England during the mid-1800s after hearing about ‘behemoths’ on the western coast. 

The redwood is endangered due to habitat losses from fire, ecology suppression, development, and pollution.

Council tree officer Alan Webster visited the site and spotted the redwood was gone – along with other protected trees.

Mr Webster said: ‘Mr Morgan could not have done this alone. This felling would have needed planning.’

He told the court the cost of replacing the tree would be around £250,000 but added it was ‘irreplaceable’.

Mr Webster said: ‘This is ancient woodland dating back hundreds of years. It is important.’

Morgan pleaded guilty to contravening a tree preservation order at Swansea magistrates. 

He will be sentenced in September.

The firm who are developing 80 houses at the site were also brought to court along with company boss Fiorenzo Sauro.

Sauro and the firm have pleaded not guilty.

Speaking after the felling, Lee Turner, Penllergare Trust’s general manager, said: ‘We’ve got excellent records dating back the last couple of hundred years from when the Dillwyn Llewelyn family planted up the estate with these magnificent trees.

‘The earliest one recorded was in 1842. We can see that from some of the family’s diaries during the period.’

Tree expert Jeremy Barrell said the tree ‘was likely to be one of the earliest introductions’ of redwoods to the UK.

He said the 90ft-tall tree should have been designated a ‘Grade-II Listed Heritage Tree’ giving it the same status as a grade-II listed building. 

The trial continues. 

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