Worcestershire Ancient Tree Record
Records continue to be added to the database, which currently holds 3141 records of trees in Worcestershire (and a few just over the border). John Day kindly provided a long list of trees which he had recorded over several years; these are still being added to the database. Other records have been added as and when they arrive, and in a few cases where a record has been sent in of an existing record, the photographs have been very useful.
It is sad to see that the deadly Ash die-back fungus Chalara fraxinea has established itself in Britain, and according to The Guardian (6/11/2012) there are records in Worcestershire. The fungus is thought to have arrived from Denmark and attacks the Common Ash Fraxinus excelsior with devastating results. Three hundred and sixty four Ash trees are listed in the Worcestershire Ancient Tree Database scattered across the county (Fig. 1.). The largest Worcestershire Ash is on the boundary between Elmley Lovett and Hartlebury parishes - it has a girth of 6.8m and, according to the Forestry Commission Tree Age Calculator, could be over 500 years old. Of Worcestershire’s Ash trees, 27 have a girth of more than 5m, which suggest that many are more than 300 years old: it will be sad if we lose these trees from the landscape. It is sad, but there are echoes of Dutch Elm Disease here.
What can we do about our Ash trees? This is far from clear at the moment, but the Forestry Commission has issued advice (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/about-us/faqs/your-woods/Documents/ash-fcalert.pdf). Perhaps the most important thing is BIOSECURITY and with a bit of effort we can slow the spread of Ash die-back.
It is unusual to find dated records of tree planting from several centuries ago. Brian Dawkins has spotted a date for Elms and Oaks planted along the western entrance drive to Madresfield Court. In her book ‘Madresfield – the real Brideshead’, Jane Mulvagh provides a date of 1646 for the planting of these trees, so those that remain are now 366 years old. Thank you, Brian, for that bit of information.
Do you ever wonder what use the Ancient Tree Record can be put to? Well a really good example emerged from Warwickshire recently (Falk 2012). You may be familiar with the proposed High Speed Railway (HS2) from London to Birmingham, it appears that the intended route is through Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, and will, potentially, affect a number of veteran trees there. Whilst I don’t want to be too controversial, but planting three trees for every veteran tree removed for the railway will take several centuries to be effective replacements!
The Worcestershire Ancient Tree Record was taken to the Tiddesley Wood Open Day again this year (2012), but this time we had the database running live onto a screen. This proved to be very popular and I had a lot of people stop by and talk about trees – generally local to them. We continue to collect records of Ancient Trees in Worcestershire, and put them onto the database eventually. If you know if any trees (or tree) that are old or notable please get in touch with us at Worcestershire Biological Records Centre firstname.lastname@example.org.
Falk, S. 2012. Tree-hunting in Warwickshire. British Wildlife, 24:21-30.
Mulvagh, J. 2008. Madresfield. The real Brideshead. Random House: London.
1. Distribution of Worestershire ash tree records, Worcestershire 18 Novemeber 2012.