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 was about working 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.
This project set out to understand why and where old 'veteran' trees have survived. Using the trees as a source of information we wanted to understand how the forest came to develop over the past 400 years. With this information, the project could tell the story of how the commoners, free-miners and others, together with the Crown, managed and created the woods we see today. Synthesising the record of the trees together with the archaeological remains and documents allowed us to write a new community history of the "Great Trees" and people in the Forest. The project also tried to record and understand how people used the trees of the Forest. This included considering 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. The project team have been able to share this information at various public events that Foresters' Forest took part in from 2017-2022.
Read the Veteran Trees History Final Report
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.
The Ancient & Notable Trees project has been able to improve the records so that all trees have a confirmed location, species and girth. By recording the location and condition of the trees, this project contributed to their conservation and survival to inspire a new generation.