Protect these VIP trees

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The Woodland Trust are calling for a national register to classify, celebrate and protect the UK’s most important individual trees (our Very Important Trees), like Derbyshire’s Old Man of Calke.

Current planning guidance in England states that ‘ancient woodland and veteran trees must be protected’.

An ancient woodland inventory (AWI) already exists and is freely available for planners to consult.

However, no equivalent exists centrally that lists or maps individual nationally important trees.

A national register would enable developers to locate special trees when preparing planning applications and plan to retain and appropriately protect them within the landscape.

It could also help owners of the trees to access support such as specialist advice and grants, to help them care for these trees.

Jill Butler, ancient tree specialist at the Woodland Trust, said: “No systematic approach to identify and formally register important trees in the UK has ever been undertaken, and many of our nationally important trees go unnoticed and are unprotected.

“Our campaign is a call to create a formal register of nationally important trees like the Old Man of Calke. It would consist of trees that meet an agreed set of criteria, recognising their historical, ecological and/or cultural value, and would offer a useful tool for planners and landowners alike.

“Once lost, we cannot resurrect these trees like manmade objects but so much depends on their survival – they are part of our history, our culture, and are vital for a whole variety of wildlife. Hundreds of specialist species from fungi to invertebrates and lichens can only survive in old trees.”

We are asking people to add their voice to our call for a national tree register, which they can do via the Woodland Trust website at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/vitrees.

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading charity championing native woods and trees.

The Trust has three key aims, which are to plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife, to protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable and to restore damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life.