©AnitaNicholson/ WTML

Ancient & veteran trees

Every ancient tree is irreplaceable. It is a piece of living history, often hundreds of years old. A wide variety of wildlife, plants and fungi thrive in the habitat that each ancient and veteran tree provides.

Ancient trees are often beloved local landmarks and are as much a part of our cultural heritage as listed buildings. But despite their age and biodiversity value, they do not have much legal protection and are in danger of being lost.

Mapping our ancient trees

We’re teaming up with volunteers to map every single ancient and veteran tree in the project area by 2027 – and you can get involved. By recording where our oldest trees are and what condition they’re in, we’ll take a vital step towards understanding how they can be better protected and conserved for future generations.

This pioneering project will add all the new records we create to the UK’s Ancient Tree Inventory. This is available to the public, planners, developers and ecologists to help identify where our most important trees are located.

Ancient tree in Sullington ©BobEpsom/ WTML

Protecting ancient woodlands

Using the map data, the Lost Woods team will identify land that where trees can be planted, or allowed to regenerate naturally, to reconnect some of our ancient woodlands. This will create new nature corridors and strengthen habitats.

We will give free expert advice to landowners on how best to protect their ancient trees, including providing individual tree management plans.

Crucially, the records will help our project partner The Woodland Trust to campaign for ancient and veteran trees to be better protected.

More than 2,000 species can be associated with a single ancient oak.

What do ancient and veteran trees look like?

Ancient and veteran trees are very large and old. They are in their final stage of life but may have decades or even hundreds of years left to live. In that time, they will sequester carbon and house an array of wildlife and plants.

Old trees can be identified if they have some or all of these features:

  • A wide trunk compared to trees of the same species
  • A smaller canopy
  • A hollowing trunk
  • Rougher or more creviced bark
  • Stag-headedness (dead antler-like branches extending beyond the canopy)

©BobEpsom/ WTML

Tell us about a tree

If you spot an ancient or veteran tree in the Lost Woods project area, or if you think you might even have one growing in your garden or on land you own, then please let us know.

It’s a good idea to first check the Ancient tree inventory to check it’s not already registered. If not, then please do contact us with location details (the app What3Words is a great tool to pinpoint the tree location), send us a photo and tell us the species if you can.  

If you are the landowner or know who they might be, please also include these details.

© AnnaClaxton/ WTML

can you volunteer?

We need more volunteers to survey our project area and help us locate ancient and veteran trees. There’s full training for anyone who’d like to help.