Apr 07 2020

Ancient Tree Verifiers | April 2020 Newsletter

 

The year so far…

For ancient tree verifying, 2020 has not provided us with the best circumstances so far! We had continuous flooding and storms in January and February which, quite rightly, forced a lot of us to stay indoors. This was then followed by the emergence of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has massively restricted all of us even further.

 

However, I wanted to start with some positive news first. Despite the tricky start to the year, an outstanding 2,963 trees have been recorded to the ATI and 2,168 trees have been verified in just 3 months! Hoping that you can all take pride in making this happen, particularly given how challenging it has been in recent weeks.

 

This just goes to show how dedicated you all are to helping us grow the ATI every day. Because of this, I wanted to thank you all for your patience and continued interest in the ATI during the current lockdown.

I have been particularly impressed and inspired with how many of you have chosen to get involved with reviewing data and updating records on the website during this period too – thank you so much for this, it will make an important difference for data quality.

 

Last month I sent a list of 5 data review tasks that any verifier could get involved with. If you want me to send this list to you again then please let me know and thanks to those who have been busy on the website since.

 

Also, as you might imagine, verifier activity on the website has increased a lot in the past 2 weeks, with many taking the opportunity to review their records on the website. As a result the website has been running a little bit slower than usual. There is nothing that can be done to speed up the website and there is a lot of data/images already on the site, so we will have to be patient with the website over the coming weeks whilst we are all using it at the same time.

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ATI data review – progress so far…

 

I wanted to share with you some examples of the data review verification work that some verifiers have been helping with so far:

 

Ancient oak review: a big thanks to Terry Davies and Aljos Farjon for helping to review ancient oak records that have a recorded girth of <3m!

 

Ancient beech review: a very tricky exercise given the nature of ancient beech, but Alan Hunton, Brian Jones and Andy Gordon have been doing a great job in revisiting some ancient beech records

 

Species review: Alan H and John K have been busy reviewing trees that have been recorded as “fir”, “maple”, “poplar” and “pine” to see whether a more accurate species ID can be assigned based on their photos.

 

Yorkshire Water dataset: Ros Evans has been trawling through 5 spreadsheets  with hundreds of trees to coordinate their upload and to ensure top quality is retained

 

Loch Arkaig records: Eleanor Shield has been doing a fantastic job of uploading a very special collection of ancient highland trees that were recorded at Loch Arkaig last year.

 

We are very grateful for your help and for being so adaptable! Great work all.

 

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Interesting ancient tree links 

 

The current lockdown could be a great opportunity to do some more reading about the world of ancient trees. See the links below for more detail!

 

Ancient Tree Wider Reading

 

Ancient tree guides 1-8: A series of guides relating to ancient tree identification and management. I would recommend reading guides 4 and 6 for verifiers.

 

Ancient and other veteran trees – further guidance on management. (2013) Lonsdale, D.

Chapter 1 (Introduciton to principles) is very informative and worth reading. The other chapters are quite technical and are focused on management of veteran trees (the first chapter will probably the most interesting for verifiers).

 

VETree project:training materials, videos and quizzes about veteran trees

The aim of the project was to set up a European wide quality training programme in veteran tree management. The training programme included both basic and advanced training material, online training tools and mentoring, videos…..

 

Planner’s manual for Ancient Woodland and Ancient Trees

A Woodland Trust guide about ancient trees, planning and policy.

 

Ancient tree sites list

Discover some of the top ancient tree sites  in the UK with the Ancient Tree Forum’s handy ancient tree site finder!

 

Interesting websites featuring ancient trees:

 

Tree Register: http://www.treeregister.org/

Ancient Tree Forum: http://www.ancienttreeforum.co.uk/

Ancient Yew Group: https://www.ancient-yew.org/

Monumental Trees: https://www.monumentaltrees.com/

 

Videos

 

Ancient Tree Forum video page

A series of videos that cover some advanced themes about ancient tree management. The content here isn’t “essential knowledge” for verifiers, just sharing these for those that like the extra detail!

 

National Trust ancient tree videos

A series of videos from the National Trust with case studies about individual well-known ancient trees.

 

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“An unexpected journey” by Judy Dowling

 

Now for something a bit different! Our co-lead verifier for Scotland, Judy Dowling, had unfortunately found herself stranded in New Zealand recently, after travel restrictions were put in place before she was able to return home whilst on holiday. Judy has been in regular contact with me and she and her partner are both safe and will be able to return to the UK soon – we look forward to welcoming her back!

During her lockdown period, Judy was able to put together a mini-article to showcase some of the amazing trees that she found in New Zealand. Please read below to see some examples of some stunning trees from the other side of the world that Judy would like to share with you.

Trees down under
As lovers of trees, you will know that wherever one goes, if you see a superb tree you cannot ignore it…well, I am currently down under in New Zealand, and stranded here for a while, with my husband. Fortunately we are in a lovely city, Christchurch, on the East side of South Island. It has beautiful botanical gardens, and also huge parks, and a river running through the small city centre that has many and varied trees along its banks, too.

We have been here 5 weeks as I write this; stranded for the last 2. What is a girl to do when the shops are closed and the country in lockdown?….  We are allowed out for walks daily, though, my salvation. The botanical gardens are now closed, but we visited it on our first day (phew) and we can see into it from the walk on the other side of the river, where there is a pinetum too.

I thought you might like to see photos of some of the trees I have hugged here ( mostly without a tape, but I then found a 1.5m one in a wee sewing case!  So some are estimated girths, a few are done with a husband holding one end of short tape and keeping his thumb on the starting point on the tree…! ( and me running round it ). Trees grow big out here, it’s warm and sunny and they get plenty of rain too….

 

1. Father of the Forest  – Te Matua Ngahere. This is one of a few very large and very old kauri trees, in a small forest towards the top of North Island. Sadly they are catching the phytopthora agathidicida disease, causing die back etc, so may not be with us much longer. This one is biggest in girth, although seems to have lost its top at some point so not biggest in volume. It is 16.41m girth! I have never seen a tree as big, it blows you away. A small group of visitors sat on benches in front of it, in awe- as did we.

2. Pinus radiata – Monterey pine. These grow huge here, we saw several on North Island at Hobbiton, where they filmed the Shire parts. This one is in a park here in Christchurch, and was 5.20 m girth.

3. Quercus suber – Cork oak. This is the first of a few in the botanical gardens. I love the texture of the bark… it was c 3.5m girth (est).

4. Ulmus minor ‘Louis van Houtte’ – Golden elm. I saw several of these wonderful trees in New Zealand, one in Wellington botanical too, but much younger than this one. The elm beetle hasn’t quite made it into here yet, but I believe is somewhere in NZ, sadly.
This is a wonderful tree, est 4m girth.

5. Cupressus macrocarpa – Monterey Cyprus. These were brought into New Zealand in the 1860’s, for shelter of homesteads as the islands were inhabited by British. This one is a multi stem, est 10m girth.

6. Eucalyptus delegatensis – Alpine ash. A huge tree, biggest maiden in the garden. They have made a wooden walkway to its trunk to stop folks standing on its roots to touch it.  Girth must be c 11m…

7. Tilia tomentosa – Silver lime. A beautiful tree….girth c 5m. Gardens closed due to lockdown the day after we went in there, so cannot go back with my tape…

8. Sequoiadendron giganteum – Giant sequoia. Another whopper! It was planted by the Duke of Edinburgh – but in 1869! It has two very low branches swelling the girth, but must be c 11-12m….

9. Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdown’ – Camperdown elm. Last but certainly not least! I found this tree on a city walk, near to the river Avon, and  a collapsed rotunda ( damaged in earthquake here in 2011). It is a whopper- I am told by a tree expert it could well be a world champion- if there was such a thing! It is 3.50m girth, growing extremely well on a Wych elm trunk, which they are usually grafted onto. There may be bigger ones on this side of the world, perhaps in Australia – does anyone know of one?! Wych elms do very well out here it seems.

 

And that’s just a select few trees, for your delectation….and to keep me sane! We may get a flight out in a week or two, a risky event but one that has to be taken, if we are to get back home….let’s hope that fairly soon we can all get out amongst the wonderful British trees again, and add to the ATI so that others can see them.

The trees here have given me solace and joy, hope they lighten your hearts too.
Judy Dowling

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Guest blog – The special ancient trees of UK golf courses

 

We have recently had a guest author, James Hutchinson, write a fantastic piece about ancient trees that can be found on golf courses around the UK. Definitely worth a look, take a read here:

https://ati.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2020/guest-blog-the-special-ancient-trees-of-uk-golf-courses/

If this image doesn’t sell it enough then I dont know what will….

The “Leper oak” – one of many stunning trees found at Hexham golf course, Northumberland

 

 

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A photo from Andy Gordon

Andy recently sent me some photos of trees that he had recorded in recent months prior to lockdown, and stumbled across this fantastic shot of some semi-submerged veteran oaks. “I came across these two photos of two veteran oaks on the flood plane of the Severn at Longner only metres away from Attingham.   They were flooded at least five times this winter.” – Andy.

Andy Gordon: two submerged veteran trees near Attingham, reflected like a mirror by the recent flooding.

 

I particularly like this photo as it is a great reminder of the hardships and environmental events that our veteran trees endure over their lifetime – it’s exactly why we call them “veteran”! Nice shot Andy.

 

If you have any photos of trees that you are proud of then please feel free to share them with me.

 

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Rob McBride – “trees from windows” project

 

Verifier Rob McBride has been working on a new project called “Trees From Windows” and has asked me to share some of the details below. A great idea to help us all stay connected to the trees in our local area, thanks for sharing Rob.

 

From Rob:

Now that we are in restricted in our ability to get out & about so much, why not join us

& celebrate your very own…’TREES FROM WINDOWS’   bringing some #positivitree & respite from sad news

to the world at this difficult time, #treesfromwindows

 

I have had a treemendous response so far from folks wanting to join in and share their TFW’s now that they are so isolated, perhaps bored ETc. I just wanted to find some means of getting trees to folks at this crappy time. So…

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VIEW PHOTOS of TFW’s here on FLICKR.com
I am trying to group for geographic region or by organisation so, perhaps an ATF Trees From Windows grouping

would be treeeemendous!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/14919622@N02/albums

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FACEBOOK:The main Social Media platform for gathering TFW’s is Facebook & Twitter currently.

Please do Join the group (if on Faceache) Trees From Windows (Facebook)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2633794110063160/

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Follow on Twitter @treesfromwindow
https://twitter.com/treesfromwindow

 

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“Osprey cam” returns for another year!

 

Although not ancient tree related, I thought you may also be interested to know that the Woodland Trust “Osprey Cam” is back for another year – very interesting to watch whilst enjoying a cup of tea!

 

From Dr Jessica Maxwell of the Loch Arkaig team:

 

I hope you are all keeping well.

 

For those who haven’t yet spotted, the Loch Arkaig ospreys are both back at the nest! Louis arrived over the weekend and Aila arrived back this morning.

 

George and Jill and the social team are busy prepping announcements/content, but I wanted to send you all a wee update.

 

Enjoy the show and spread the word!

 

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/osprey-cam/

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Just to reiterate, thank you to all of you for your help and continued patience with us, and for helping us to respond appropriately to the COVID-19 situation.

 

Stay safe and keep in touch.

 

With thanks

Tom Reed (Citizen Science Officer – Ancient Tree Inventory)

1 Comment
  • Judy Dowling

    Well done Tom! Great to have this to read while so far away…..latest news on flights is that we are booked on Malaysian airlines flight through to Heathrow then Edinburgh, leaving here on Monday April 13th….this doesn’t mean we will get home though, as flights being cancelled or delayed all the time. Our third or fourth attempt…
    Please can you resend me the email about data reviews, not sure what I can accomplish with an old small iPad but will see….
    Kia kaha ( keep strong)
    Judy

    April 8, 2020 at 12:52 am

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