Woodland Trust reveals shortlist for Tree of the Year

An oak tree said to have inspired the Chronicles of Narnia is among those nominated for the Woodland Trust’s tree of the year competition.

The Kilbroney Oak is located in Kilbroney Park, Northern Ireland, where CS Lewis holidayed as a child and later described it as his vision of Narnia.

This mighty oak is on a shortlist of 12, decided by wood experts from the Woodland Trust as well as members of the public. These trees are now recorded for posterity on the charity’s Ancient Tree Inventory (ATI).

Volunteers nominated hundreds of examples on their tours around the UK, sending photos and information about the candidates to the trust.

While getting the public to vote for a favorite tree may seem like a bit of fun, the trust says the competition, now in its eighth year, is important because it highlights rare ancient and veteran trees, their role in fighting the climate crisis and loss of biodiversity in the UK, and why protecting it is vital to the planet’s future.

Related: Studies suggest the existence of up to 2.1 m old trees and veteran trees in England

Tom Reed, Citizen Science Officer for ATI and competition judge, said: “The enthusiasm for ancient and veteran trees and the increasing number of entries submitted to ATI over the last couple of years showed how much people love and value their trees.

“We selected the trees based on their size and importance to their species, and we also looked for trees steeped in history, as well as trees that had high ecological, aesthetic or cultural value. It is up to the audience to choose a favorite from the impressive list.”

It is important to record ancient trees when they are found, as we do not know how many there are. A study by the University of Nottingham said there may be 1.7 to 2.1 meters old trees and veteran trees in England, of which only 115,000 have been recorded. Most of these are unlikely to be protected by policy or legislation, so it is impossible to know how many are at risk.

Adam Cormack, the Woodland Trust’s head of campaigns, said: “These trees have significant value. Yet very few have legal protection, which currently only comes in very specific circumstances, such as if a tree happens to be in a protected wildlife area. There is protection by proxy instead of properly protected heritage status.After all, some of these trees are more than a thousand years old.

“We believe that now is the time to give these living legends the legal status they deserve. We all want to be able to help protect these wonderful old trees for centuries to come.”

Last year’s winner was the Kippford leaning tree, a hawthorn on the west coast of Scotland.

Voting via the Woodland Trust website closes at 12.00 31 October. The winner will be announced on 4 November and will go on to represent the UK at this year’s European Tree 2023.

The card list

1 Escley oak, Herefordshire

It is not on any public records, but for the past two years it has been one of the largest and oldest spokes at ATI.

placement Along a public footpath north of Shobdon barn, Michaelchurch Escley.

Age Probably at least 400 to 500 years old.

2 Flitton Oak, Devon

This spectacular ancient oak spreads out with eight huge limbs dripping with moss and lichen – a haven for many species.

placement Situated in a tree-lined woodland where three roads intersect in North Molton, near Flitton Oak Barns.

Age Estimated to be more than 700 years old.

3 Holly on the HillHawnby, North Yorkshire

Unusually, this striking holly has a broad rounded crown, a clue that the canopy may have been harvested for many years.

placement Along a field boundary adjacent to a public right of way which was an old bridleway on a first edition Ordnance Survey map (1860-1890).

Age Holly trees can live for 300 years. However, although there is no certain age for this specimen, history suggests that it could have existed since the late 1800s.

4 Burnbanks oak, Haweswater, Cumbria

The shape of the tree suggests that it may be an old, felled tree that was managed to harvest timber, or the remnant of an oak that has regrown after collapse in the past.

placement A pocket of ancient woodland near Burnbanks, Haweswater.

Age Sessile oaks can live for more than 1,000 years

5 Hedge hawthorn, Colton, Cumbria

This wonderful twisted tree forms part of a small line of hawthorn trees that mark the site of a former land boundary.

Placement: The tree in an open field on the edge of Grizedale Forest, north-east of Satterthwaite.

Age The land boundary is visible on a first edition OS map, so the tree is probably between 170 and 200 years old.

6 The 12 apostles lime, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

This is the largest of an avenue of 12 limes planted in St James’ churchyard to represent one of the 12 apostles. Historical sources suggest that the original avenue may have been planted around 1770. Some of the original trees have been replaced, including five in 1929.

placement South-east path leading up to Chipping Campden churchyard.

ONEgive Believed to be more than 250 years old.

7 Kilbroney oak, Kilbroney Park, County DownNorthern Ireland

The natural landscape of the Kilbroney estate is believed to have been the inspiration for the fantasy world of the Chronicles of Narnia.

placement Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor.

ONEgive More than 300 years old.

8 The portal three, Loanhead, Midlothian, Scotland

This striking roe has bent to form an entire archway that now has growth sprouting from the top. Rowan trees are heavy in folklore, but it is not known whether this tree was deliberately trained into this shape or formed naturally.

placement Publicly accessible, it lies within the wider grounds of the ruined Mavisbank House.

ONEgive: Estimated to have been planted between 1850 and 1880.

9 The Rolls of Monmouth oak, Monmouthshire, Wales

The largest tree on the Great Oaks golf course in the Rolls of Monmouth estate.

Placement: Rolls of Monmouth, Monmouthshire.

ONEgive Probably more than 500 years old.

10 Langley Park Chestnut, Angus, Scotland

A sweet chestnut tree in the grounds of a Georgian mansion.

placement Langley Park House, Montrose Basin, Angus.

ONEgive Unknown, but it is almost certainly as old, if not much older, than the original 18th century house.

11 Layering horse chestnut, Kedleston, Derbyshire

This magnificent tree has obviously suffered trauma in the past, the trunk is hollow and decaying while the branches have fallen to the sides. Despite this, the tree has survived.

placement Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire.

ONEgive The exact age is not known, but horse chestnuts can live up to 300 years.

12 Waverley Abbey yew, Farnham, Surrey

A spectacular yew, with roots growing into and around the ruins of the very first monastery founded in Britain 900 years ago by the Cistercian Order.

Placement: Within the ruins of Waverley Abbey.

ONEgive: The exact age is not known, but it cannot be more than 480 years old.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.