The Woodland Trust has embarked upon a project to find and map all of the huge, old trees in the UK to help preserve them. To date, the project has mapped more than 100,000 wooden wonders; this is a remarkable number, not just in terms of how busy participants have been, but in terms of how amazing it is that there are that many still standing.
Ancient trees are important for many reasons. Not only are they worthy of preserving simply because of their place in our cultural heritage, but researchers can learn things about our climate by studying the conditions these trees have lived through over the past several centuries. In some cases, they are home to species of birds or insects that cannot be found elsewhere. Some of them may have interesting historical relics associated with them too. For example, the Crowhurst Yew once had a cannonball from the English Civil War embedded in it. Have a look at the picture of that old beauty here.
There are several ways to get involved in the project. You can take part by finding, measuring and recording ancient trees, and uploading the information to the server. You can also help by spreading the word about the project. There’s a newsletter you can subscribe to, and tree events to attend.
If you live outside the UK, you might want to donate to the project and become a tree guardian (the landing page suggests an amount of five thousand pounds, but I’m sure they’d welcome donations of all sizes, or perhaps you could organize a fundraiser). Or you might plan your next visit to the UK around finding new trees or visiting some known ones. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Major Oak, shown to the right, in person, and I can say that the pictures just don’t do it justice.