RESIDENTS awoke to a row of butchered and bare trees lining the River Thames this morning - however the sight won’t be permanent.

Council workers took their chainsaws to the row of willow trees in East Street, West Oxford to the dismay of some of the public.

However the trees were actually being pollarded as part of the council’s tree management plan.

The pruning process sees dead branches and leaves removed as well as some living parts to ensure the long-term overall health of the tree.

And while the sight of bare tree trunks may be a little jarring for residents, the branches will ultimately grow back thicker and stronger.

A council spokesman explained the pollarding is also carried out for health and safety reasons.

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He said: “These willow trees have historically undergone the practice of pollarding.

“Once this cycle has begun, it is important to regularly maintain these to the previous pruning points as branches can grow back weaker.

“The work currently being undertaken is based on the health and safety implications in the trees’ surroundings.

“Oxford Direct Services has undertaken consultation with local ward councillors and nearby residents, who have been made aware that these works were required.”

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Pollarding also helps to limit the size of the trees preventing them from becoming too big for their surroundings.

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Some residents had raised concerns over potentially nesting birds, however, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds advises that tree maintenance should always be carried out over the winter months.

The RPB say during the winter it is possible to see into the tree while also avoiding the peak season for nesting birds, which is from the beginning of March to the end of August.