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Our Stronghold for Nature Veteran Trees History

Veteran Trees History

The woodlands, forests and hedgerows of the Forest hold many precious records of their history and heritage. One such group of living monuments are the veteran trees of the Forest, the remnants of ancient groves and woodlands.

This project will work with the local community to identify, record and conserve the veteran trees and related archaeological features of the Forest, to enhance the records and management of these trees and use them to help the community understand their heritage.

What will the project deliver?

This project aims to understand why and where old trees have survived. Using the trees as a source of information we want to understand how the forest came to develop over the past 400 years.

The current Forestry Commission database for notable trees holds some information on around 1300 trees; most are trees of special interest, species unique to the forest, parts of rides or specimen trees. Only around 400 are veteran or notable trees. Of these most have records that are incomplete and none has information relating to the health of the trees. We aim to improve the records so that all trees have a confirmed location, species and girth.

The project aims to record and understand how people used the trees of the Forest, this includes how trees are used as memorials to famous events and people, how people used trees to write graffiti on to record going away to war or for love affairs. How trees are cultivated and harvested through time. We want to record the many avenues of trees that were planted and are now lost or unrecorded.

With this information, the project aims to tell the story of how the commoners, free-miners and others, together with the Crown, managed and created the woods we see today. In addition, by recording the location and condition of the trees, the project will contribute to their conservation and survival to inspire a new generation. Synthesising the record of the trees together with the archaeological remains and documents will allow us to write a new community history of the "Great Trees" and people in the Forest.

What can I get involved in?

This project is for anyone with an interest in history, landscape, archaeology and who just enjoys being outdoors in the beautiful forest. Training in recording and mapping Veteran Trees and how to read the history of the landscape will be given.

We need volunteers to take part in surveying the trees. In 2018, we will meet once a month from January to June. Surveys will need to be undertaken outdoors, with a roundup of the day’s events at a suitable venue.

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From creating habitats for our wildlife or improving our waterways, to recording oral histories or finding old photos, there’s always something going on to get involved in!