Recording Your Local Tree Treasures

Parks or stately houses open to the public are local treasures yet often there are no tree lists available that show what and where they are on the site. Obtain a map of the site (photocopied if necessary to A4 size) then download Dendrologist's Plotting Grid and get this photocopied on a transparent page such as an Overhead Projector Sheet (available at good stationery shops) so this can be overlaid on the map and photocopied again. This gives a useful map with a grid on which trees can be located and referenced using the numbered and lettered axes.

In towns and villages, people have always made lists and even prepared tree trails but, over time, these guides sell out or become redundant as trees decline and disappear. The internet now allows all tree interested people to keep up to date records of the trees in their own town or village. With the objective to record the notable trees to be found in the locality and share this with anyone, a recording form is easily designed in 'Word' which is used by most people so the information can be widely and easily accessed by others. It is probable that your town or village website will want to display your notable tree list so it can be valued by the whole community and these are useful guidelines:

a) Trees must be visible from a public place
    For example from the street, footpath, a public park or other public place.

b) Trees should be entered by botanical name under species e.g.
    Betula utilis
    (Where there are several specimens of the same species it is suggested you select no more than the best three and enter them separately on your list.)

c) Trees should be evaluated and given a 'star rating'
    The tree must be established and fairly mature. We suggest a star rating as follows:
      *     Worth a look
     **    Very good tree
    ***   Really spectacular tree which you would not want visitors to miss

SpeciesStar RatingAddress/County or DistrictMap Location
Ancient Semi-Nat Wood Long Grove Chesham, BucksSP944028
Araucaria araucana*117 Broad Street, Chesham, BucksSP961017
Calocedrus decurrens**Star Yard Car Park Chesham, BucksSP959 017
Ginkgo biloba*Star Yard Car Park Chesham, BucksSP959017
Robinia pseudoacacia*Red Lion Street, Job Centre, CheshamSP959011

The Ordnance Survey Map six-figure grid reference is important to pin point the tree.

On the bigger scale like a county, using the same criteria, as the Bucks Tree Club has found, in beginning the locating the best of each variety of trees to be found in that county, the Ordnance Survey map reference, will work for any situation even in fields or on hillsides.

Acer platanoidesNorway MapleLane EndSU 806916
Acer saccharinumSilver MapleAscott Ho. WingSP 892224
Abies holophyllaManchurian firLittle KingshillSU 901994
Arbutus unedoStrawberry TreeHigh WycombeSU 865931
Castanea sativa (Vt)Sweet ChestnutHampden WoodsSP 863023
Catalpa bignonioidesCatalpaAylesburySP 827136
Cedrus deodaraHimalayan cedarAscott Ho. WingSU892223

The Tree Register of The British Isles (TROBI) inherited the records of the late great dendrologist and tree measurer, Alan Mitchell, who first produced the Forestry Commission book 'Champion Trees' which has been updated and revised several times since with the latest edition being 'Champion Trees of Britain & Ireland: The Tree Register Handbook' by Owen Johnson, published by Kew Publishing at 22 which like TROBI's website Tree Register, is highly recommended for all recorders of tree treasures.

Ancient Woodlands are important and rare so are treasured in any county that has them. Buckinghamshire, is lucky in being rich in ancient woodlands, particularly in the Chiltern area so the Bucks Tree Club has a list of these on its website and from where we have permission to reproduce the following information:

Ancient Woodlands are designated as being land which has been continuously wooded since 1600 AD in England and Wales, (or 1750 AD in Scotland simply because of the difference of historical survey information available) as these dates mark the beginning of reasonably accurate historical information on local land use, often in the form of estate maps. There are some records prior to this, notably the Doomsday Book of 1086. So it is taken that in such map evidence, existence of individual woods prior to 1600 probably date back to the first colonization after the ending of the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago. The irregular, often sinuous boundaries of woods are one indication as well as the presence of certain plants like wild daffodils, yellow archangel, wood anemone and bluebells of ancient woodlands. These represent the nation's richest wildlife habitats, covering less than 2 per cent of the UK's land area and they are irreplaceable. There are basically two broad types of ancient woodland - Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland (ASNW) and Planted Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS) - some with conifers and the complex web of life was disrupted. However many of these planted ancient woods, still have elements of the previous native woodland ecosystem surviving. The delicate plants have hung on, sometime just as seed, waiting for an opportunity (and enough light) to thrive again. Trees like the small leaf lime and about 30 epiphytic lichen species are also used as Ancient Woodland Indicators but caution is needed as some plants are tolerant of a wide range of ecological conditions and will behave differently on different soil types. Thus, they may be suitable indicators of ancient woodland on one soil type, but not on another. Fortunately experts from the then Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) spent many years mapping and examining potential ancient woodland site and by1995, produced for each county an 'Inventory of Ancient Woodlands' which identifies Ancient Semi-Natural Woodlands, Ancient Replanted Woodland and Woodland cleared since the production of the First Series of OS maps (1899-1940) the Ordnance Survey Sheets (now Landranger OS series) Maps. It is these original NCC maps from the 1980s or earlier, that appear on the internet site MagicGov which is a little difficult to use and also the OS location numbering is not there so those interested in listing the ancient woodlands for their county will have to do their own cross matching. It is worth persisting with this fascinating website.

Don't be afraid of making a mistake with identification! The Dendrologist, to help would be tree enthusiasts, have volunteers who are willing to run the Introductory Tree Identification Course. Occasional courses also run by such bodies as the WEA (Worker Education Authority) and FSC (Field Studies Council) as well as botanic gardens. It is always recommend that anyone wanting to learn more about tree identification begins by choosing one from the numerous books available. Some websites provide excellent detail guidance and one that can be recommended is the Natural History Museum one Identify Trees which details 80 of the most common trees in the UK so is a great way to begin to look for the tree treasures where you live.

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