Study suggests two million ancient and veteran trees in England - ten times as many as previously recorded - University of Nottingham

A new study has shown there could be around eight to ten times as many ancient and veteran trees in England than currently recorded, with estimates ranging from 1.7 to 2.1 million, compared to the 115,000 currently on record.

As many of these trees are yet to be recorded, most are not likely to be protected by conservation methods, policy or legislation, and therefore we don’t know how many are at risk, why, or where. New location mapping, developed by experts at the University of Nottingham, means work towards recording and mapping them could become easier.

The new research builds upon work carried out by the Woodland Trust, Ancient Tree Forum and the Tree Register, which has currently mapped 180,000 trees.

In this new study, published in Ecological Applications, experts from the School of Life Sciences at the University teamed up1 with the Woodland Trust, to develop the first robust nationwide estimate of ancient and veteran trees in England.

An ancient tree is a tree that shows exceptional age in relation to other trees of the same species. Most ancient and veteran trees display similar features such as a hollowing trunk, dead wood in the canopy or the presence of other organisms such as fungi or plants on its structure. They may also have irreplaceable historical or cultural value. Veteran trees share similar features and values to ancient trees, but they may not be old enough to be considered truly ancient for their species.

Birch trees for example, are fast-growing and could be classed as ancient at 150 years old, while a yew tree might receive the same accolade at 800 years of age. These trees are very important sources of dead wood that are valuable natural assets important for wildlife. They also have cultural and historical links, and some of the oldest trees in the country e.g. the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, are busy tourist spots.

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Posted On: 30/06/2022

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