Heritage tree protection covered

Woodland Trust and National Trust detail strategies to help conserve ancient and heritage trees.

Hay Festival: conservation of ancient and heritage trees discussed
Hay Festival: conservation of ancient and heritage trees discussed

Representatives of two of the UK's largest conservation organisations laid out their views on how best to conserve ancient and heritage trees during a debate at last month's Hay Festival.

Woodland Trust conservation adviser Jill Butler said: "We are on the cusp of understanding their value in terms of biodiversity, culture, tourism and as gene banks. Other countries get it, including Germany and Poland, which have set up registers. We would like to see something like that in the UK.

"We can identify them but we need the Government to say 'we endorse these as nationally important trees'. We want to give their owners a sense of pride and interest in these trees, and ensure they have the best advice and possibly financial support."

On the role of local authorities, Butler said: "You can preserve trees through TPOs (tree preservation orders) but councils are backing away from this because of a lack of resources.

"Conservation areas are valuable because trees are automatically protected - it's an approach we would like to see used much more widely."

National Trust director for Wales Justin Albert said: "We are now going back to our first principles of opening up the countryside. (Trust co-founder) Octavia Hill saw that unless you have access things aren't protected."

He added: "My own view is we need a right-to-roam law in England and Wales as in Scotland. When people have access to woods they will love them more. Pristine environments aren't at risk. We look after 80 million trees. Those are safe but there are a lot outside that."

To which Butler said: "Many heritage trees are not in woodland. It's those we are more concerned about."

Adding his support, author and BBC4 Tales from the Wild Wood presenter Rob Penn suggested connecting heritage trees to local schools. "It's just one small step towards creating a whole new culture around woodlands," he said.

"We need to make then relevant again, which means bringing them back under management - coppicing, felling and selling specimen trees. The awareness of provenance happened with food, why not wood?"

More than 1,500 visitors to the literary festival on the English-Welsh border pledged their support to the Woodland Trust's tree register campaign.

Woodland survey - Rare lichens discovered

A survey of Atlantic oak woodland in the Snowdonia National Park by conservation charity Plantlife has found three rare lichens previously unknown in the area.

Sam Bosanquet, moss and lichen ecologist at survey funder Natural Resources Wales, said: "This has increased the depth of information we have about this special area and armed with this knowledge we can make sure they are protected."

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