Ancient woods have been continuously wooded since before records started: they are living descendants from Britain’s prehistory. A tree may be a village’s oldest inhabitant, a founding figure in a region’s identity, a natural monument in the nation’s story. Thorn-bushes and hedgerows harbour our history. Old orchards are habitats for some of our rarest species and living museums of disappearing ways of life. A country that cares for its future cares for its past: we need laws and commitment to protect these irreplaceable natural treasures.
"When you come across an ancient tree you are put in direct contact with the past. Survivors from an earlier age, they are more or less irreplaceable. Let us make sure we look after them and that they are not carelessly chopped down or grubbed up."
Clive Anderson, President, Woodland Trust
"As iconic as our historic castles and houses our ancient woodlands and trees are a quiet connection to the past, a sanctuary from 21st century life and a gift to our descendants. We still don’t fully understand all that they do. They are irreplaceable and we should cherish them."
Luci Ryan BSC Hons MRES, ecologist
"Ancient trees, some of which have been growing for hundreds of years, are timeless and have an almost magical attraction. There is a sense of permanence about them that is missing from so many other aspects of modern life. In our previous garden, there was a huge horse chestnut tree that was more than 200 years old. On a windy winter's night I loved to stand outside and listen to the branches swaying in the gale. Sometimes, with the moon peeping from scudding clouds it was almost otherworldly but it always left me with a feeling of peace. Woodlands are like that too. Trees are so vital to our own existence and that of so many other creatures that we should be doing all we can to preserve them. It distresses me that developers and planners have so little regard for such a beautiful, valuable and vital resource."
Image: Dawn-Marie Wyllie
"Trees are important because the sight of them lifts my spirit. Just take a minute to really look at a tree. What an amazing plant it is! I have been fortunate enough to always have trees in my life in some way. Today it is my local park trees - some of them extremely beautiful, old specimens, some of them self-seeded common ones like sycamore and beech, but all worth caring for. Now that local authorities are so short of resources to take care of the trees properly, concerned citizens need to step in to protect and nurture trees wherever they can."
Image: Cecily Jarvis
"Our future depends on us being custodians of trees and all wildlife. How dare we have the arrogance to cut down trees that have nurtured and protected us through centuries, the woods and forests that provide shelter and life? What do we want to be connected to – motorways or our fast disappearing countryside? It’s up to us. Trees can’t speak for themselves, so we have to speak up for these silent calm giants."
"On one of the walks in our village is the “huggy tree”. It's tall, and wide – too big to put your arms around and old. The branches are sinking lower and lower, and you need to give it a careful look from a safe distance the day after a storm, in case one of them ends up on your head. Right from when the children were tiny, everyone has to go and hug the tree as we walk past, sometimes in turn, sometimes in a human chain. Now the children are all grown up and there are just the two of us left at home, but I still hug the tree every time I go past. Last time with an audience of bemused cows. Oh yes, the branches on that side come down to cow munching height, and no further…"
"Trees are a living reminder of a wilder wilderness past in our landscape. And like most other things of true value we have to try to better protect them, since we shall indeed otherwise miss them greatly when they are sadly all but gone."
Image: Melinda Lewis