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One of the UK’s oldest trees showing signs of sickness

Ashbrittle Yew is showing signs of sickness - casting a spotlight on lack of care for natural monuments.

This tree is one of the oldest and most extraordinary in the UK, and fully deserves the specialist care it needs. Thousands of years of natural heritage could be lost if things don’t change now.

What is happening to Ashbrittle Yew?

The Ashbrittle Yew, one of the UK’s oldest trees at over 3,000 years old, is displaying signs of sickness. It is difficult to tell if it is just going through a bad patch or whether it could be a sign of something more serious.

Either way, it has helped highlight a problem we are very concerned about – there is a lack of care for our natural monuments. 

Ancient trees in the UK

The UK is immensely important for ancient yews. With over 1000, there is a phenomenal number in the UK compared with the rest of Europe.

However, it’s not just yews, there are many thousands of ancient trees across the UK and they each have wonderful heritages that have seen thousands of years of history.

But questions are raised, such as; who is out there to look after them and care for them in their old age and who is out there to make sure that these trees are protected? This is why we are campaigning for a register for the very special trees.

Our Ancient Tree Expert, Jill Butler said:

“Our oldest trees are natural miracles. These majestic specimens can live for hundreds, sometimes thousands of years and support an incredible amount of wildlife.

Imagine the amazing stories they could tell!

We are taking this issue forward by calling for a Register of Trees of National Special Interest or Very Important Trees (V.I.Trees)”

Why we need a tree register

We need a starting point to protect the most important trees in the UK.

These living monuments make an important contribution to the nation which needs to be officially recognised and protected, just as our historic buildings are.

The need for expert advice and care needs to be properly managed now and for future generations.

Our V.I.Trees campaign

Our V.I.Trees campaign was launched with Country Living magazine, but has grown to be so much more.

Since October, thousands of people have expressed their support for a register to classify and protect our nationally important trees. The recognition that these trees are of ‘national importance’ should  help identify those trees which require specialist care.

It’s ironic that during our campaign English Heritage have given national status to a 1970s skate park in London and a Victorian urinal in Bristol. So how come we haven’t got national status for the 3000 plus Ashbrittle Yew or the 2000 year old plus Ankerwycke Yew, or the 800 year old or so Major Oak in internationally famous Sherwood Forest?

Jill Butler continued: “It’s a worrying world where our natural heritage is left to wither, but there is hope on the horizon that in years to come children will be able to visit these wonderful trees and understand the importance of looking after something that has lived alongside us for so many thousands of years, before a chainsaw is unnecessarily wielded”

Support our V.I.Trees campaign

Our V.I.Trees campaign still needs your support

Support our V.I.Trees campaign