Tri Color Beech bark separation
Is the crack/separating bark on the south or southwest side of the tree?
It looks as if the bark was damaged before and then healed.
If yes, then there is sunscalding or frost crack going on. Bark on young trees is thinner than on older ones. Exposure to temperature fluctuations and the heat of the sun can cause cracking during winter and early spring. You will want to prevent this next winter by wrapping the trunk as directed below
Commercial tree wraps can prevent sunscald damage. Start at the trunk’s base and wrap, overlapping by 1/3 in an upward spiral to a point above the second branch. Attach the wrap at top and bottom. Apply the tape to the wrap only. Direct contact of the tape with bark may cause injury.
Wrap the tree in October or November and remove the wrap in April. Leaving the wrap on all year restricts tree growth and results in girdling injury. Also, during the summer, damaging insects and disease organisms often take up residence under the wrap. Wrap new plantings for two consecutive years.
Loss of bark prevents water and nutrients from reaching the crown of the tree.
Loss of too much bark will compromise the health of the tree. The good news is that the tree will grow a callus around the wound. Paint is not necessary.. Using a sharp knife or chisel, remove the loosened bark just to the point of health tissue. The tree will seal the wound on its own.
Preventative measures would be 1) wrap the trunk as instructed above for several years . 2) make sure the tree goes into winter well watered. Trees take up water for a time after their leaves have fallen. Make sure the tree is watered up until frost.
3) do not allow mulch to rest against the trunk of the tree. Pull it back about an inch.
If these measures do not solve the cracking bark, the tree may have a disease or other issue. I would then consult an arborist.