As tourists from around the globe - and Oxford residents - express their regret about the loss of the High Street's beloved almond tree, church leaders have explained the decision behind its removal.

The tree outside the University Church of St Mary the Virgin was seriously damaged by the 2018 summer heatwave.

Oxford Mail:

After a large branch fell into the High Street in July work was carried out to make the tree safe.

But a decision was eventually taken to remove it, and work to complete the task started on Wednesday.

READ AGAIN: Oxford High Street's famous almond tree has gone

But a statement issued by Rev William Lamb, on behalf of the University Church, has confirmed the almond tree will be replaced, so the familiar sight of pink blossom on the High Street will not be lost forever.

Two other trees will also be planted.

Oxford Mail:

The tree decorated with red and white string in March 2018. Picture by Karen Buttery

The statement said: "On Friday, July 6 2018, a large branch from our beloved almond tree fell into the High Street. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

"Colleagues from the Fire Service attended within the hour. They removed the branch and cleared the highway. In the analysis of our arboricultural consultant, the tree failure was caused by a combination of drought and a degree of swirling air movement generated by passing large vehicles on the high street.

"Since July, the Parochial Church Council has sought advice about the tree and to ensure that the remaining branches were stable. A thorough Tree Management Plan was commissioned in the late summer and carried out under the supervision of the University Parks Department.

"Following consultation with the Tree Officer from Oxford City Council, it was agreed that the best course of action was to remove the whole tree and plant a suitable replacement in its stead. This work began on Wednesday."

Oxford Mail:

Pic: Giselle Alden

As well as planting a new almond tree in the same location as the old one, two other trees which produce pink blossom will also be planted alongside it.

The statement added: "To achieve a similar aesthetic, we will be planting a Cercis siliquastrum, a Sorbus cashmiriana and a Prunus dulcis (Almond Tree).

"This will ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy the early signs of spring and the budding of almond blossom on the High Street."

The extreme hot weather has prompted the Parochial Church Council to establish an Environmental Action Group, made up of parishioners and students.

Oxford Mail readers flooded our Facebook page with comments and nostalgic pictures of the almond tree in bloom.

Sarah Jane Staff said: "Been there since I was born so that is a long time and it looks strange without it but probably (for) safety reasons it had to go."