Mapping a future for ancient trees

Here is a lovely website – the UK Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Hunt – in which people are invited to find and map ‘all the fat, old trees across the UK’ to create a ‘comprehensive living database’ of ancient trees.

Britain enjoys a rich endowment of trees. Thanks to the Normans, who planted hunting forests, we can claim more ancient ones than any other country in Europe. We haven’t got anything as iconic as the plane tree of Kos in Greece, a descendant of the one under which Hippocrates supposedly taught students 2,400 years ago. But while Kos may have the largest plane tree in Europe, the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire is possibly the oldest tree in Europe, according to the Woodland Trust, one of the backers of the scheme, which hopes to log 100,000 ancient trees by 2011. It is salutary to be reminded of the grandeur of our trees, as it was 20 years ago this month that the strongest winds for nearly 300 years uprooted 15 million trees.

– from today’s Guardian Environment Leader. Whilst Roger Deakin’s disapproval about the fetishisation of trees (‘Trees to him were herd creatures, best understood when considered in their relationships with one another’ – from Robert Macfarlane’s lyrical memorial article about Deakin) rings true, to my mind the beauty of the Woodland Trust’s project is its collective effort of appreciation. Good.

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