FWAG SouthWest are teaming up with the Cornwall Ancient Tree Forum to champion the protection of ancient trees on Cornish farmland. Such trees not only support many specialist invertebrates, plants and fungi, but also provide cultural significance. These landmarks may be one of the oldest features of a farm, and therefore provide a tangible link between generations of farmers, perhaps going back 800 years or more like the famous Darley Oak!  A veteran tree is a big old tree with great habitat value such as deadwood and hollowing. An ancient tree is a veteran that is one of the very oldest of its species.

Sadly, many ancient and veteran trees are lost due to due development or unsuitable land  management. Things that may contribute to include overstocking, soil compaction, ploughing of tree root systems, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals impacting on mycorrhizal fungi and soil health. However, we now have a detailed understanding of their requirements and best management practices, some of which can be funded through Countryside Stewardship.

To help spread awareness of, and advice for the protection of ancient trees, we will be presenting a series in the monthly e-news to highlight a different farmland tree each month. We therefore invite you to send photos of a tree and a short description if possible. You could describe the tree, giving an approximate girth measurement (circumference at 1.5m height). Describe how you use the land around it and whether you consider the tree to be important to your family. Please send a photo and even a historical photo if you have one. We will select one tree each month to feature in an article, and with your permission, we could record your special tree on the Ancient Tree Inventory (ATI). The ATI will be a topic of a later blog post. Our articles will also include some recommendations for protecting trees in similar situations. These will also be added to a blog on the FWAG SouthWest website. From this collection, a winning tree will be chosen at the end of the year, based on appearance, age, cultural significance and the protection it has received.

Send us your trees! Send photos and a few words to Lawrie at [email protected]

Member PLUS readers might consider using their next annual visit to complete a survey of trees. We can map trees of particular significance, estimate their age and provide recommendations of management that will enhance their longevity. We will work with the Ancient Tree Forum to ensure we are providing the most beneficial advice.