SINCE it was unveiled in 2005, Bury Knowle Park’s Storybook Tree has become part of the landscape.

But Headington residents are now concerned that their fairy tale monument is decaying.

The tree was constructed out of a wind-damaged cedar and depicts characters from books by Oxford’s most famous authors.

Rosemary Belton, of the Friends of Bury Knowle Park, said: “I think a lot of people recognise the park by the Storybook Tree now.

“It is central to the theme of the park, because there are sculpted benches around it.

“I think it is as popular with adults as it is with children.

“We very much hope that it will remain in place for as long as possible.”

It is the bottom, unsculpted, part of the tree which is decaying.

Ms Belton hopes Oxford City Council could separate the two parts and give the tree a new base.

The tree was sculpted by local artist Matt Cave in the image of Smaug the Dragon from The Hobbit and Aslan the Lion from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – the characters from stories by JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis who both lived in Headington.

In 2007 the tree was given an environmental award by Oxford Preservation Trust.

The tree was initially commissioned by Headington Action and in summertime youngsters gather around it for stories.

Patrick Coulter, of Headington Action, said he had spoken to the city council’s tree management officers who said they would look into what could be done.

He said: “Over time the whole thing will eventually decay away.

“We really want to keep the tree there for as long as is possible. It is much appreciated by everyone who uses the park.”

A spokesman for the city council said: “At some time in the future it will be necessary to either reposition the sculpture or lay it down.”