An ancient yew at Crowhurst

On Tuesday 4th May the 3rd Tree Hour webinar took place, chaired by Nick Redman, a member of the Bexhill Environmental Group and its trees sub-group, you can watch the webinar on our YouTube channel. The speakers were Tom Reed, Citizen Science Officer – Ancient Tree Inventory at Woodland Trust and Doug Edworthy, Tree Warden, Brightling & Dallington Parish Councils.

Attended by 54 participants, the Tree Hour webinar introduced the Woodland’s Trust’s Ancient Tree Inventory as a growing archive and an invaluable citizen science project that maps the oldest and most important trees in the UK. The talk explained how anyone can take part by putting forward a new record of a veteran, ancient, or a notable tree and what information is required. We learned about how different tree species have different life expectancies and why finding an ancient rowan or a field maple tree is rare.

According to the National Planning Policy Framework Paragraph 175c ancient and veteran trees are considered irreplaceable habitats. The standing advice is for local planning authorities to consult inventories such as the Ancient Tree Inventory and to refuse a planning permission if it will result in the loss or deterioration.

According to Tom Reed: “Mapping ancient and veteran trees – and learning about their distribution and condition – is the first step towards their conservation. In the long term, this may help us to measure loss rates and inform management decisions for these special trees, so it is very important that we keep recording them to the Ancient Tree Inventory.”

The second talk introduced Dallington Forest, an area of 205 hectares characteristic of the High Weald in the western part of rural Rother where you find many ancient and veteran trees and ancient ghylls, special ravine woodlands and sandstone “ripple beds” dating back to early Cretaceous period over 130 million years ago.  Majestic beech, oak, and alder tree species dominate.  The only Sussex forest mentioned in the Domesday Book,  the area is  rich industrial archaeology, given the High Weald area was the main iron-producing region of Britain for over 2000 years. Dallington Forest has a long history of woodland management such coppicing in relation to past iron and then hop industry.

Doug by a fallen beech in Dallington Forest

Doug Edworthy, Tree Warden, Brightling & Dallington Parish Councils, conducts guided tours of the forest and has been putting together a series of self-guided walks which are available here. Doug says: “Ancient and Veteran trees are very much undervalued. Their intrinsic beauty and the very special habitats they provide for increasingly rare plants and animals means they really should be given the same or greater status as our much loved ancient listed buildings – some of which are very much younger than our ancient trees!“

Two very old pollard beech trees found in the Dallington Forest

Take part, put forward a Rother tree to be added to the Ancient Tree Inventory

The online Ancient Tree Inventory, as an interactive map, already lists many special trees in the Rother district, such as the ancient yew in Crowhurst churchyard and the incredible group of sweet chestnut trees you find in the Beckley churchyard.

There are not many special trees recorded for Bexhill; this may be because there are not many old trees left in the largest urban area of the Rother district or they have not been simply recorded. The webinar chair, Nick Redman from Bexhill Environmental Group says:  “The importance of recording our Ancient and Veteran trees cannot be underestimated so that we can afford them the opportunity for special protection. Hopefully after watching these fascinating talks by Tom and Doug, the people of Rother will have a better understanding of how to identify such trees and record them on the Ancient Tree Inventory.”

Rother Tree Hour webinars were part of the Rother Tree Champions initiative towards building a community caring for the Rother treescape. Partners are the Woodland Trust, High Weald AONB, Friends of Combe Valley, Dallington Forest Project, Bexhill Environmental Group, and Rother District Council.

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