Why do we cut down trees?

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04 February 2019


You may have seen our recent blog post about the coppicing work we carry out on our land. This activity is supported by tree thinning, which also takes place this time of year.

It’s important that as the guardians of over 6,000 acres of green space in Milton Keynes, we manage the land effectively to ensure it is kept in the best possible condition for people to use and enjoy now and in the future.

Tree thinning is key to this – while you might think that cutting down trees is a bad idea, it’s vital for ensuring remaining trees and the shrubs and wild flowers beneath them are strong and healthy. If you’d like to find out more, read on for our quick-fire guide to tree thinning…

  • Why do you need to thin trees?

When Milton Keynes was created, trees, shrubs and plants were planted at high densities (sometimes 5 trees to a M2), often using fast growing species to create an instant green landscape.  Although achieving the initial objective of quickly ‘greening’ the s city. The tightness of planting was unsustainable over a long period of time as the trees grow and compete for light.  As the trees continue to grow, thinning is essential to ensure the remaining trees have enough space and light to thrive.

While for those looking in it might not seem a positive thing to be doing, if thinning is not undertaken these trees that are artificially close to one another then compete against each other for the available light and become thin and spindly with no relative stem strength, as they put all their growing energies into going skywards.  Eventually they are prone to blowing over or snapping, or as they get stressed become diseased.

  • What is thinning?

Tree thinning is the process of removing certain or a percentage of trees (often weaker or badly formed trees) from a plantation or wooded area, with the overall aim of creating a well-spaced and structured woodland using a diversity of healthy, well-formed trees that have the space to develop and grow further.

  • How do you decide what trees to thin?

It’s a very careful process to identify which trees will be removed, and which will remain. The number of trees removed depends on the type of tree and the density of the planting.  We try to retain healthy and well-formed trees in a diversity of species, so we are not relying on one trees species, which could then be vulnerable to pests and disease.

This process and its results will be carefully monitored to ensure the best results. It can be repeated over many years until the trees mature and their growth slows down.

  • What about the wildlife?

All the work we carry out in our parks is expertly timed to ensure it has the least possible impact on the wildlife and other park users. For this reason, tree thinning is carried out in the winter so it doesn’t affect wildlife and bird breeding seasons. By thinning out the upper canopy trees it also allows light into the plantation floor which enables the shrubs and ground vegetation beneath to grow, which further helps create wildlife habitat such as feeding (e.g. insects and berries) and nesting opportunities.

As with any of the work we do, we’re very happy to answer any questions you may have about tree thinning. Do get in touch with us through our website, Facebook or Twitter.



  • The Parks Trust hosted over 525 events and activities in their parks in 2019

  • Over 180,000 visitors attended an event or activity in MK Parks in 2019

  • 91% of event attendees said they had a Excellent, Very Good or Good experience at our events in 2018!

Discover our parks

  • Campbell Park

    Facilities:

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    Located at the heart of Milton Keynes, Campbell Park hosts many of Milton Keynes’ major festivals and events. Its imaginative mix of formal gardens, water features, woodland and open pasture mean it’s an ideal spot to enjoy the changing seasons.

    Refreshments
    There are no refreshment facilities in Campbell Park other than during special events. However, there are a wealth of cafes, bars and restaurants in the nearby city centre, theatre district and Xscape centre.

  • Willen Lake South

    Facilities:

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    Willen Lake is Milton Keynes’ most popular park. Visitors take part in watersports activities, go cycling, enjoy the playground, try the high ropes course or simply picnic along Willen’s shores. It’s a great place to entertain all ages of family and friends, whether it’s a visit to the café or restaurant, a stroll, trying a beginners’ course in sailing or hiring a pedalo or bike.

    Refreshments
    The one4six café and The Lakeside Pub operated by Fayre and Square.

  • Howe Park Wood

    Facilities:

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    Howe Park is probably the woodland mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086. Parts of it may be rare surviving fragments of the 'wildwood' that covered the whole of lowland Britain after the last Ice Age, 6-11,000 years ago.

    Refreshments
    There is a café at Howe Park Wood serving cakes, drinks and cold foods.

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