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Giving ancient trees a chance in Wales

Ancient trees have been left outside of most regulation in the UK and in Wales but now we have a chance to put them at the centre!

The Welsh Government is asking for views on the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources across the country. This poses several big opportunities which could lead to stronger protection for our ancient habitats, and ensure greater recognition of the value and benefits of trees and woods overall.

In the spotlight are our fattest, gnarliest trees, as the consultation proposes to strengthen the purpose and remit of Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). We’re delighted to see this. For many years our supporters have backed our call for better protection for ancient trees and it’s clearly been of influence.

The ‘lemon tart’ lichen – one of the world’s rarest organisms – was destroyed when its veteran oak hosts were chopped down to make way for the A470 extension. (Photo: WTML/A. Heslop)
The ‘lemon tart’ lichen – one of the world’s rarest organisms – was destroyed when its veteran oak hosts were chopped down to make way for the A470 extension. (Photo: WTML/A. Heslop)

What are Wales’ 'natural resources'?

This is defined as ‘materials or substances occurring in nature which can be exploited for economic gain’. From Coed Cadw’s point of view, trees, woodlands, and forests are some of Wales’ most valuable – and vulnerable – natural resources.

Do TPOs hold the key to protecting ancient trees?

The TPO system is not perfect, but it does create a framework for local authorities, community groups and private landowners to protect trees that provide ‘amenity’ to the community. Currently, however, what constitutes as ‘amenity’ consists only of visual factors. The significant contribution that ancient, veteran and heritage trees offer, particularly their biodiversity value, has – until now – been ignored. This consultation offers us the chance to root reform into the system.

The timing could not be more critical. Many of Wales’ most treasured trees have been neglected – something we’ve worked to overcome by inviting the public to celebrate their ‘tree of the year’. The famous 1,200 year old Pontfadog Oak, for example, sadly collapsed during high storm winds in 2013

These trees are part of Wales’ history and contribute to our cultural heritage today. They are already centuries old and deserve to be properly respected, and protected, for centuries more.

The consultation also puts forward further wide-ranging but key regulatory changes we’re keen to  influence. One particularly important aspect is that trees could be considered as ‘green engineering solutions’ not just beautiful and interesting, but also as providing us with entirely tangible benefits we simply cannot afford to do without. We need you to let the Welsh Government know your views!

Consultations are considered much more valuable if they have a wide range and high number of voices on issues. The Welsh Government has explicitly asked for a large number of responses, which is also why the deadline has been extended.

Help us give our ancients legal protection at last

Have your say and be the voice of trees and woods across Wales, shaping future protective woodland policy.

You can still get involved if you’re not based in Wales and remember, the steps made here could provide the platform for future UK policies.

Please get involved – the consultation closes on 30 September. 

A safer future for ancient trees in Wales?

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