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Interesting Trees

April 3, 2011
By Becky,  Skills for the Future

The first day of us doing something together that wasn’t either shopping or driving around reserves was a Veteran Tree workshop led by Emma Brawn at Holton Lee. None of us had been to Holton Lee before, and we nicely surprised by how secluded it was, remarks of “I’m sure there was a duel carriage way round here somewhere” were heard from time to time.

2 veteran oak trees at Holton Lee

The morning started with a slide show presentation from Emma informing us as to what veteran trees were, why they were important for wildlife and why it was important to survey them. Veteran trees are not necessarily ancient trees, they are trees of a certain size and with characteristics that are biologically, aesthetically or culturally interesting.  Such features include fungal growth, deadwood, cavities, water pockets, sap runs, woodpecker holes and branches touching the ground. They are very important for invertebrates, and hundreds of different species can be found on a single veteran tree.

After the presentation we had a typical DWT break involving cake, and used identification keys to ID some tree branches. We were mostly successful apart from getting thrown by the fact Emma had brought along 2 branches of hawthorn and so we had 3 branches with thorns but only had 2 types of thorns that it could be.

After this we went out into the grounds at Holton Lee and went to look at two massive oak trees. We went through the survey sheet to learn how to record possible veteran trees we found, by recording things such as girth, interesting features, presence of deadwood, presence of wildlife, whether the tree was a maiden tree or whether it had been coppiced. Of course, one couldn’t go on a tree workshop and not hug a few, so reluctantly John was made to take photos of us hugging one of the massive oak trees.

Can you spot us? We're well camouflaged.

Then we went to an old hedgerow in the woodland which had a couple of veteran trees in it. Because there weren’t enough veteran trees to go round, we just practised our surveying skills on any tree. The tree that Becky and John picked turned out to be pretty dull, it was straight with no fungi, deadwood, sign of wildlife or interesting features.

John's holding the clip board so he thinks he's in charge

Megan and Jess had slightly more luck as the base of their tree had a bit missing and the tree had been coppiced. But it was all about learning what things to look for rather than actually finding a veteran tree. Of course these trees also needed hugging!

Much love

After we had finished we went to look out over the harbour and spotted a herd of sika deer.
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