A unique record of Notable and Ancient Trees in Britain and Ireland

The Tree Register Latest News

Ancient Tree Hunt News No.1 November 2011 (Adobe PDF PDF Document)

  • Tree of the month – The Great Savernake Hawthorn
  • Meet the ATH Team
  • Regional Roundup
  • Ancient Tree Forum on Facebook
  • Blog of the month!

Ancient Tree Hunt News No.2 December 2011 (Adobe PDF PDF Document)

  • Tree of the month – Ancient Ash in Kent
  • Regional Roundup
  • Kent Heritage Trees Project
  • The Marton Oak

Champion TREES of Britain and Ireland

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Our latest book is published by Kew Books and is available at www.kewbooks.com

Champion TREES of Britain and Ireland

It will appeal to:

  • All tree enthusiasts –  amateur and professional
  • Students, dendrologists, botanists, arboriculturists, horticulturists and nurseryman
  • Local authority landscape, parks and recreation departments
  • Tree conservation officers

Champion TREES includes:

  • Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales
  • Completely new edition of the definitive book describing every notable and ancient tree in Britain and Ireland from The Tree Register
  • 5,000 trees listed – 60% newly discovered or their vital statistics re-checked and measured since the first edition in 2003
  • Unique guide for visiting thousands of trees – describing the tallest, largest and finest trees grow by region and county
  • Extensively Illustrated throughout with over 200 colour photographs
  • Thousands of fascinating facts on ‘superlative trees’ – the oldest, tallest, largest, the ones with the greatest girth, the fastest growing and the rarest in the British and Ireland
  • Includes a checklist of native tree species in cultivation
  • Valuable and practical indexes of synonyms for botanical names and common names, and the counties, parishes and many gardens where these magnificent trees can be found
  • Glossary and select bibliography
  • Precise instructions on how to measure a tree

What kinds of tree grow where, how long do they live, and how big do they become? This book answers all these questions and more, introducing the finest examples of every kind of tree growing in the British Isles, from ancient yews and towering sequoias to the rarest of recent introductions.

It draws together thousands of statistics amassed over the last decade by hundreds of recorders that contribute information to the Tree Register - providing definitive information on trees in Britain in Ireland. Over 5,000 trees are described in this new book, 60% of which are newly discovered or re-recorded since the first publication of the Tree Register in 2003.

Part one of the book comprises a tree flora listing of all species alphabetically by botanical name. Part two is a guide to visiting Britain and Ireland’s finest specimens, listing trees by geographical region and county. A checklist of all native trees is also included as are indexes of synonyms and common names, counties, parishes and many gardens.

This book is indispensible, both as a handy resource for the professional, and as an inspiring, wide-ranging guide to our largest and most spectacular of life forms - packed with personal insights, local knowledge, and photographs of individual trees.

‘...Britain’s most spectacular trees, identified in a new study of prime specimens across the country. The research, by the Tree Register of the British Isles, has singled out the country’s “superlative” trees – those which hold the national record in categories including size, age, height and girth...

...6,000 of the best examples of different tree species in each region.’

Jasper Copping, The Sunday Telegraph

‘The new edition of Champion Trees of Britain and Ireland identifies our most remarkable specimens...

The Tree Register has teamed up with Kew Gardens to publish a record of this rich arboriculture...

...classifies more than 5,000 varieties, from ancient yews to towering sequoias, and shows where to find them, region by region.’

Hannah Olivennes, The Observer

‘...top trunks are Britain’s biggest, oldest, tallest, thickest and rarest trees. Tree registrar Owen Johnson studied nearly 4,000 to find the record holders for a new book.’

Ben Jackson, The Sun

'Just champion... Yorkshire’s top trees in limelight
...the book sums up the mammoth research which has gone into the online Tree Register of the British Isles'.

Chris Benfield, Yorkshire Post

About the Author
Since the age of 13, Owen Johnson has measured over 60,000 trees. As Registrar to The Tree Register, he maintains the definitive database of trees in Britain and has written The Collins Tree Guide among other books. He lives in Hastings, dividing his time between trees and nature conservation.

The Fall and Rise of a Welsh Champion!

On 2nd March 2011 the tallest tree in Wales and once contender for tallest tree in Britain and Ireland, a little shy of 64m in height, was reduced to a 9m stump. The tree had split from its base to about 3m above ground as it twisted in strong winds that whipped across Lake Vyrnwy in February. The Forestry Commission took this decision as the tree was within falling distance of the road and a tree the public are encouraged to visit as part of a Giant Tree Trail. The risk was considered too great and Matt Pooley of tree surgeons Treefellers, reduced the tree to the high stump. The Forestry Commission have plans to turn this into a sculpture.

The Giant Tree was exceptional within a grove of Douglas Fir planted originally in the 1880's to help act as filters for water running into the lake created by the newly constructed dam as a reservoir supplying the people of Liverpool. Those who had climbed the tree previously included Michael Spraggon who, from the top, had identified a tree higher up the slope as being a tree that now stood head and shoulders above the rest. David Alderman, Director of the Tree Register measured the heights of more than 20 trees within the grove but concluded that the highest tree was not the tallest! The laser measurements suggested the only contender to reach 60m appeared to be a slender tree close to the felled champion and this was the tree they decided to climb in an attempt to secure Lake Vyrnwy as the home of the tallest tree.

The evening of Thursday 3rd saw experienced recreational climber from Canopy Access Ltd Waldo Etherington join Michael in securing a rope to the first major branches, some 20m above the ground. The pair used a Big Shot catapult to fire a line over a branch to pull up the main climbing rope. By darkness the tree was roped and ready to be climbed.

Friday began with Lake Vyrnwy shrouded in mist as Matt Pooley and his team of Tree Fellers arrived for the attempted record climb. BBC Countryfile and Forestry Commission representative Mike Whitley were also soon on the scene. Waldo quickly ascended the ropes secured the night before, checked everything was OK and cleared a few broken suspended branches, another example of how severe the winds had been. But, it was Stuart Clarke who was given the task of reaching the top of the tree. Michael provided guidance on measuring to the very tip of the tree from a safe position below it and the climb began.

When he reached a position where he could reach the tip of the tree with a measuring stick, he lowered a 60m tape to the ground. Representing the Tree Register, David had agreed a mark on the tree 1m above ground level, as centimetres could be critical! Michael, Stuart and Waldo were in phone contact as Michael held the tape to the 1m mark. When the tape was checked for straightness and was tort, Stuart read off the height as 56m 32cm. Adding to this the 1m to the ground gave 57m 32cm. For some agonising minutes whilst communication was lost, those on the ground were unsure whether Stuart had already added the extra height to the tip of the tree. Finally confirmation came through that this was still to be added and Stuart had been checking the distance on his measuring stick. To confirm the tree as a new champion required an extra 3m 21cm to beat the next tallest climbed, a 60.5m Grand Fir at Leighton Hall.

A hushed audience with cameras poised waited for the final measurement. They all heard "3m 30cm" crackle from the speaker phone and there was a great outward sigh of relief as not only was it confirmed that the tree had joined the exclusive group of trees over 60m in Britain, but they had secured, if only temporarily, the tallest tree climbed in Wales! Within three days the champion had been felled but the new champion had risen to take the new Welsh crown of tallest tree and Lake Vyrnwy was back on the map for its champion trees!

Forestry Commission plantations of Douglas Fir at Gwydyr, Conwy and Coed a Brenin are now hot on the heels of these older trees and David Alderman predicts the champion could change several times over the next few years, unless and other specimens such as the Lake Vyrnwy Giant could be found in a deep gorge somewhere breaking the 65m barrier.

For a list of tall trees, search the champion tree database, selecting the minimum height as either 50m or 60m.

Standing Tall: Before being felled, the retiring and new (center right) Champions side by side Firing Line: Waldo and his Big Shot catapult Too Tense for Words: Onlookers eagerly await the verdict
Standing Tall: Before being felled, the retiring and new (center right) Champions side by side Firing Line:  Waldo and his Big Shot catapult Too Tense for Words: Onlookers eagerly await the verdict

The tallest trees climbed in Britain

Height Species Location Climber
64.3m Abies grandis Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, Argyll, Scotland Iain Campbell Duncan
63.8m Pseudotsuga menziesii Stronardron, Argyl, Scotland Sparsholt College
62.7m Abies grandis Blair Castle, Blair Atholl, Perth & Kinross, Scotland Sparsholt College
61.3m Pseudotsuga menziesii Hermitage, The, Dunkeld, Perth & Kinross, Scotland Sparsholt College
60.6m Pseudotsuga menziesii Lake Vyrnwy, Powys, Wales Stuart Clarke
60.5m Abies grandis Leighton Hall, Welshpool, Powys, Wales Andrew Bowman Shaw

Natural History Museum - Urban Tree Survey
Are there any old elm trees left? You may be forgiven for thinking there aren’t, as since the 1960s, more than 20 million mature elms have died in the UK from Dutch elm disease. However, younger trees have survived, and so have some mature trees. But how long have they got, and how many are there? You can help scientists find out more about elms in the UK by taking part in the Natural History Museum’s urban tree survey.

And the Conservation Foundation’s Ulmus Londinium project, which launched in March 2011 at the Museum’s Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity (AMC), is asking people to record elms they spot in London. The Museum is working with them to include this data on the urban tree survey’s interactive map. The Tree Register has contributed details of over 400 elm trees recorded in Greater London.

Ancient Tree Hunt Volunteers support the Tree Register
A big thanks to all Ancient Tree Hunt volunteer recorders and verifiers who have helped provide images and information for inclusion in the new Tree Register Handbook, to be published by Kew Books this summer, compiled by Tree Register Registrar Dr Owen Johnson.

Volunteers continue to help update and discover old and new champions throughout the UK. The Tree Register and Woodland Trust are looking at ways to extend their existing partnership when the project ends in October 2011. The collected data will be used by the Woodland Trust to help inspire and protect ancient trees whilst it is expected that the Tree Register will continue to help support recording by volunteers and maintaining the database.
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