Storm Arwen – The impact one year on

Across the country over 30,000 hectares of woodland areas were damaged by last years winter storms, with our region suffering especially from Storm Arwen in November 2021, and Storms Malik and Corrie in early February 2022. One year on from Storm Arwen, we’re taking a look back at the impact of the storm, the work that’s been undertaken by our rangers to repair the damage.

About Storm Arwen

On Friday 27 November 2021 Newcastle’s parks and green spaces felt the devastating impact of Storm Arwen. The storm was so severe the Met Office issued a rare red weather warning as winds of up to 98mph battered our region.

The scale of the damage to the city’s green spaces was assessed by our rangers, who found that around 400 trees across our estate have been uprooted or severely damaged, and there had also been damage to fencing in some of the parks. You can read more about the damage and the significant areas of damage here.

Repairing the damage

Our team began working straight away to clear roads and rights of way and make the parks as safe as possible following the storm, prioritising the high-risk areas and working their way through to the lower risk trees.

After the urgent health and safety works were carried out, the summer saw us start on phase two of the recovery effort. This meant our team revisiting over 30 fallen trees across 11 sites to remove and chip branches – leaving only stable tree trunks in the parks. Where appropriate we will be leaving the trunks in situ long term, to provide valuable wildlife habitats within the parks. In cases where we’re not able to leave the trunk where it fell we are exploring potential creative ideas for reusing the timber within our parks.

Sarah Capes, Ranger Team Leader, said: “I couldn’t be prouder of all the hard work our team have done over the last year. They were straight out into the parks as soon as the storm was over to assess the damage and worked quickly to make sure everyone was safe, and since then they’ve continued to make great progress.

We’ve really invested in the ranger team as part of the clean-up effort too, with training on skills like the use of chainsaws which has enabled us to do a lot of the work in-house, keep costs down, and be prepared for similar damage in the future.”

To date the clear-up effort has taken over 100 work days, and there’s still work to be done. Over the next six months our team will be removing and chipping branches in six more parks, and eight of the sites have fallen trees within woodland areas which will take a little longer to clear.

Supporting our work

The overall cost to our charity has already exceeded £60K, diverting our time and resources away from some of the works we had hoped to carry out in 2022.

If you would like to support our charity’s work, please consider making a donation via our Just Giving page. All contributions will make a huge difference.

On behalf of everyone at Urban Green Newcastle, we’d like to thank you for your help, support and patience over the past 12 months.