Geologists have warned a rare collection of 325-million-year-old fossil trees is at risk of being destroyed – as the building they are housed in is ‘decaying’.
The remains of 11 lycopod trees are contained at Fossil Grove in Victoria Park, Glasgow, after they were discovered in the 19th century.
The tree stumps stand on land where they once lived near the Equator, roughly in the same area as Brazil, but drifted north as continents broke up and shifted.
Fossil House was built to protect the rare trees, but experts said the building is now damp, humid, and has salty water dripping from the roof and coating the stumps.
Geologists warned the poor condition of the enclosure, which is owned by Glasgow City Council, is putting the stumps survival at risk.
David Webster, a geologist of the Fossil Grove Trust, said the building was like a ‘dark, damp, cave’.
Mr Webster said: “The fossils and the building are in decay given the high humidity in the building.
“The council have not spent any money on the building in a number of years.
“It was originally a well-designed ventilated building, but later developments has meant the dampness is causing problems for the fossils.
“In the last 30 years, it has got incredibly damp.
“All the equipment has been damaged, the lights don’t work and the fossils are being damaged by the water dripping off the roof.
“The water is creating salts that are destroying the fossils.”
Mr Webster said the Victorians ‘recognised the worth’ of the fossils and raised a considerable amount of money to protect them with a new building.
But plastic roof panes fitted in the ’90s had led to poor ventilation.
Glasgow City Council allows access to Fossil House, with a member of the parks team made available to let in visitors – but it has not reopened since lockdown.
The Fossil Grove Trust funded essential repairs with added money secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund to commission a feasibility study on the building and collection.
Mr Webster said Fossil Grove can help people understand the impact of climate change given information held by the rock record,
He added: “It’s a really good example of the community trying to keep something going that they believe in.
“We don’t want it to be a case of ‘come to Fossil Grove and look at 11 trees’.
“We want to broaden out the scope of what they can tell us.”
Historic Environment Scotland said it had been working to “understand the cause of the decay and deterioration” and to identify the best conditions to “ensure preservation of this unique asset”.
A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said it was ‘working closely’ with the trust.
He added: “There are clear challenges with preserving the fossils within what is a variable environment.
“But we are hopeful the feasibility study and subsequent discussions with the trust will provide a way forward.”
By Ellie Forbes, SWNS.
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