Parks calculates the cost of storms

Parks calculates the cost of storms

Storms Isha and Jocelyn caused thousands of pounds worth of damage in Scotland’s famous Botanic Gardens as they were hit by the highest wind speeds since records began.

Staff at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) in the capital and its three regional sites are still assessing the full cost of repairs following this week’s storms.

In Edinburgh, Storm Isha blew over a large birch tree, while around 20 panes of glass were smashed, polycarbonate sheets were blown away and polytunnels at a plant nursery were damaged as winds reached 70mph – the highest since records began in 2019.

During Storm Joslyn, a cypress tree was lost after its large footplate was lifted off the ground, while multiple branches and debris were scattered throughout the park.

The greenhouses will remain closed to horticulture staff and scientists at the Edinburgh site until repairs are completed by specialist roof access contractors next week.

The three RBGE regional parks at Benmore in Argyll, Dawick in the Borders, and Logan in Dumfries and Galloway also suffered storm damage.

In Benmore, where power was cut, a clearing operation was underway after several trees had fallen or lost branches, while logan bushes were blown out of the ground.

Dawick Botanical Garden, near Peebles, suffered the most damage during Storm Isha, with 13 specimens affected by the storm requiring climbing inspections for weather damage and up to four trees may have to be completely removed. Storm Jocelyn caused more damage, including damage to historic giant redwoods, and debris removal is expected to take up to six weeks.

“We are still working to clean up the mess caused by Storms Isha and Jocelyn, and while we were fortunate to avoid any catastrophic losses over the past week, there is still noticeable damage across the country,” said Raul Cortes Machin, director of horticulture and visitor experience at RBGE. Four sites of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.

“Despite having names like Naughty Kids, these storms are having multiple impacts on our parks as our teams have been diverted from essential winter projects and maintenance work to remove hazardous debris spread across our sites.

“We have also lost valuable revenue from the closure of the Edinburgh park – revenue that goes towards ongoing research into biodiversity conservation and loss, and maintaining and upgrading the parks.

“Our parks in Benmore, Logan and Dowick have been spared this fate as they have not yet reopened for the new season.

“Although there are always storms in Scotland in winter, they seem to be occurring more frequently. The rainfall is definitely getting more intense, and the teams on the ground feel like they barely get a break between one storm and the next.

“As the climate emergency worsens, we expect to see storms like Isha and Jocelyn more often and in different seasons.”

Gardener Peter Wilson in a NEWP vehicle safely dismantles a fallen cypress tree after lifting a large root pad from the ground in Storm Joslyn.
The large root pad of a cypress tree was lifted out of the ground in Storm Jocelyn.
At the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), gardener Tom Brook removes a hanging pine branch from a nearby arbutus tree after Storms Isha and Jocelyn.
At the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), a fallen silver birch tree is removed after Storms Isha and Jocelyn.
At the Royal Botanic Garden EDINBURGH (RBGE), a fallen silver birch tree was removed from the JOHN HOPE GATEWAY service yard by horticulturist Rowen Suess after Storms Isha and Jocelyn.

The photos below are from Dawyck and Benmore where some damage occurred after the storms as well.

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