PLANS to save a 200-year-old wishing tree at Saltwells Nature Reserve in Netherton have been unveiled.

Dudley Council is working with the Friends of Saltwells Nature Reserve to preserve the tree, a western red cedar, which is at risk of dying.

The tree, which sits on the piece of land which has recently returned to council ownership, has been damaged and subjected to numerous arson attacks in recent years.

To prevent further damage or the death of the tree, the council plans to reduce the size of the canopy by cutting it back by one third and placing fencing around it.

They hope this will help it to achieve a long life, like the world’s oldest western red cedar which is 1,460-years-old.

Councillor Shaz Saleem, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for highways and public realm, said: “We know the wishing tree is thought highly of in the local community and many generations have fond memories of climbing it as a child.

“It has been standing for more than 200 years and we want to keep it that way for as long as possible.

“The reality is that half of the tree has died, which is why we need to cut it back and give the living half the best chance of survival.

“As we plan to cordon off the tree, it will prevent people climbing on it in future. I know this may disappoint some people but this is essential to save the tree, maintain public safety and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.”

The council has consulted with the Friends group and work will take place in the autumn.

Lucy Atherton, chairperson of the Friends of Saltwells Nature Reserve, said: “As custodians, we want to help the tree to thrive long into the future. It is important that we act now before the situation worsens anymore.”