Dec 20 2019

Ancient Tree Verifiers | December 2019 update

Dear Ancient Tree Inventory Team,


I hope you have had another great month recording and verifying trees to the Ancient Tree Inventory and thank you very much for all of your continued efforts on the project. I wanted to send a final update for 2019 before our office closes next week (I will be back in office on the 2nd January if you need to get in touch).


First of all, some great news to share… Since the start of November, you have verified a monumental 1,205 trees, proving that those cold and shorter winter days are no match for our dedicated team of verifiers! Very well done!


I hope you can take a moment to reflect on the success you have created for the project this year – we are building a bigger and better picture of the UK’s ancient tree distribution thanks to your help.

David Alderman will be doing a 2019 annual review of the data in the next few weeks and I’m very excited to see the results and share them with you.

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and I would like to pass on warm wishes for 2020.

Keep up the great work.

With thanks,


Citizen Science Officer – Ancient Tree Inventory


Trees of the month | December 2019

Please follow this link to read head verifier David Alderman’s ancient tree summary for December 2019, with a particular focus on ivy, as well as a stunning ancient rowan:




2020 Ancient Tree PhD project – help needed next year!

Some of you may know that we have had a PhD student, Vicky, using the ATI data for her thesis about the distribution of ancient trees. Vicky is producing a model that will help to predict the locations of ancient trees, which could be an amazing asset for the ATI.


But now, Vicky needs our help with an important task, for which we would really appreciate the help of the volunteer verifiers. In a nutshell:

  • We will generate a list of 100 x 1km grid squares (England only)
  • We will need help from volunteers to visit these 1km grid squares and walk around them, covering as much of the area as possible.
  • The key task is to record the number of ancient trees and the species. This would be the minimum amount of information we need (no girth / photos needed).
  • If you are able to record the trees to the ATI that would be a huge bonus! But the key thing that Vicky needs to know if the number of ancient trees and the species present.
  • This is for ancient trees only – not veteran or notable.

This will be a really exciting project and the above is just an introduction to the task. I will be in touch in the new year with more information and would be really grateful to anyone who would like to get involved.



ATI “Tip of the Month”

It can sometimes be very difficult to know where to record the girth of a tree. Single-stem, maiden trees are the easiest. But what about multi-stem, coppice or phoenix trees?

Where possible girth should be recorded at a height of 1.5m, but this is not always appropriate and you will need to use your best judgement based on the form of the tree.

Remember, you are looking for the narrowest girth measurement of the tree, so if there are any large burrs or patches of epicormic growth on the trunk then this should be avoided when measuring the tree as otherwise it would suggest that the tree is larger than it actually is.

Please see this article which provides a useful refresher on where to record the girth of a tree:



Expenses & Timesheet Reminder

Thank you for sending through your expenses and timesheets last month.


Everyone should have now have the latest copy of the expenses form (the version with “Tom Reed” as volunteer manager noted at the top of the page). Please email if you need a copy of the expense claim form.



2020 Ancient Tree Events

I am currently planning a suite of Ancient Tree Inventory training days for 2020, as well as a programme of tree recording days around the UK too.

The aim is to spread our training days around the UK, so that as many people get the chance to come along and learn more about how to record ancient trees, however we can only hold a limited number of these sessions, so some travel may be needed if you would like to attend (but it will be very worthwhile!).

I hope to be able to share a list of all the training days and planned recording days soon in the new year – and there may be more to come as the year goes on! Hope to see you there.



Judy’s “Tree of the month”

A new addition to our regular newsletter! I am interested to hear about some of the trees that have inspired you the most, and each month will ask one verifier to nominate their chosen tree.

This month, joint-lead verifier Judy Dowling is putting the spotlight on the Birnam Oak (sometimes called Macbeth’s Oak), located near Perth and Kinross.

From Judy:

This very fine ancient oak is a living relic of the great medieval oakwood that once cloaked the banks of the river Tay in Perthshire, just south of Dunkeld. It is a sessile oak, immortalised in Shakespeare’s Macbeth:-

“Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam wood to High Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.”


The witches’ prophecy came true when Malcolm’s army disguised themselves with branches from the oak, crept up  and surprised Macbeth at Dunsinane, resulting in his demise…


As the battle reputedly happened in 1057, this tree is most unlikely to have been around then; it has a fine girth of 7.46m and the first 2-3 metres of its trunk are hollow, but is still in fine fettle (as we say in Yorkshire!). Its branches are held up with 8 props.


Thomas Hunter wrote in 1883 (Woods, forests and estates of Perthshire):-

“There are still a few gigantic living specimens that excite the wonder of all who behold them…..Two trees are believed to be close upon one thousand years old….the girth of the oak at five feet from the ground is 18ft….”

Other historic measurements are:-

1792- 15ft in girth (unspecified height)

1813- 17ft in girth (unspecified height)

1879- 19ft 7 ins  (3 ft from ground)




I recently visited this oak with the Perth and Kinross Tree wardens, who were learning how to record trees for the ATI with me. They were very impressed with it, and no doubt will be keeping a good eye on it, along with the Birnam sycamore nearby (an even more impressive tree!)


It is Tree no 2422 on the ATI database, and can be viewed at :-



Beef steak fungus and Sherwood Forest blogs from Helen Leaf

Sherwood forest is globally famous for it’s links to the legend of Robin Hood, but owes much of its character to the stunning collection of ancient and veteran trees.

Verifier Helen Leaf is making it her mission to record, update and verify all of the ancient and veteran trees in and around the Sherwood Forest Country Park.

You may be interested to read some of Helen’s blogs which can be found on her own website “The Oaks of Sherwood”.

Take a look at her excellent post about beefsteak fungus in this link:



Extra verifier highlights

A big thank you to Alan, Alex, Ros and Dave for helping to get our reverification of over 1000 records underway.

Well done to Malinda for your excellent work in helping a group of Hampshire Tree Wardens to record more trees to the ATI recently.

Many thanks to Howard for recently making a special trip to Farnham to help verify a group of trees there.

Dave and Terry have been doing some great work to help verify numerous veteran trees that have been recorded in a woodland that is threatened by a major pipeline development.

Thank you also to Brian for visiting a series of Woodland Trust woods recently to survey for ancient trees.

I could go on and on with more examples! Thank you very much once again to all of our verifiers for making the ATI a success.


Bring on 2020!

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