A dismantled tree on the Godolphin Estate may look a little unsightly – but it is actually hiding a special secret.

The large beech tree, believed to be more than 200 years old, is the on main road through the woods.

It was picked out during an annual tree inspection commissioned by the estate’s owners, the National Trust, as it was showing signs of a fungus called Meripilus giganteus, which is a giant polypore.

This type of fungi destroys the root plate and with the tree crown hanging directly over the road there were limited options. An application was made to fell the tree – not an easy decision to make for estate ranger Pip Morse and his team responsible for the upkeep of the grounds. However, it appears the tree had not seen its last days yet.

When the felling work began evidence was discovered that suggested bats were using the tree.

Further advice was sought from Steve Marshall of the Cornwall Bat Group, and after a look inside the tree cavity it was found that although there were no bats inside, it was being used as a feeding area.

The team then came up with a new plan to suit the bats – the large canopy of the tree was removed, along with the overhanging limbs, while the main trunk and two vertical limbs were left in place.

The tree will now die back naturally allowing it to become a deadwood habitat, which is essential to woodland ecology.

A spokesperson for the estate said: “Although the tree is unsightly, it is most interesting and essential for the wildlife.”