Treecosystems’ Director Geoff Monck will be delivering a presentation for the Guildford Environmental Forum at Zero Carbon Guildford on the evening of Wed 28th June 2023. This is open to all, so please book your free place here:
Geoff will also be running a walk and talk session down at the yew trees at Newlands Corner on Wed 12th July, book your place here:
The workshop was organised by the National Trust’s Trees Advisor for the southeast Tom Hill. A group of leading conservation arborists and consultants operating in the southeast, as well as National Trust staff and the ATF’s Technical Officer Claire Harkin, were invited to attend to share their knowledge and experience. The aim was to promote a collaborative professional network to further the positive impact on ancient and veteran tree (AVT) conservation of the group.
It was a great day with all members of the group sharing their experiences openly in the true spirit of putting the conservation of AVTs before any competitive and commercial interests.
The world of AVT management is a rare industry where most of those involved place their primary focus on achieving the best outcomes for AVTs, far ahead of personal and commercial interests. Those involved in the industry know they are never going to get rich saving trees, but that is not why we do it! Conserving vitally important AVT trees and their associated biodiversity, thus making a hugely important contribution to the conservation of our planet’s remaining ecosystems, is, across the board, a primary shared goal.
Kingley Vale nature reserve is a SSSI and a SAC for its yew woodland and is owned and managed by Natural England. A site visit was set up with the Kingley Vale team and a small, focused group of tree experts including yew specialists Peter Norton (Ancient Yew Group) and Hugh Milner (Head Forester), along with Dr David Lonsdale (former Lead Researcher at Forest Research), Ted Green (OBE – co-founder of ATF), Caroline Davis (Ancient Tree Forum), J-P Berry (Guildford Council Senior Trees Officer), Jon Stokes (The Tree Council) and Treecosystems’ Geoff Monck.
Similar signs of increased tree stress were identified in many of the yews at Kingley Vale, as at other yew sites in the south of England. It was very useful to discuss these amongst the group out in the field.
After the site visit, a number of outcomes came out of the round table discussion:
- An expanded research consortium would be formed called the Yew Health Working Group. The group will further investigate apparent increased tree stress and possible deterioration in the physiological condition of yews across a number of sites in the south of England, and possibly further afield. The consortium represents an alliance between the teams and landowners behind three key ancient and veteran yew populations in England – Kingley Vale (Natural England), Newlands Corner/Merrow Downs (Albury Estate and Guildford Borough Council) and Great Yews (Longford Estate), along with the academic lead Myerscough University College. Geoff Monck from Treecosystems is the overall group lead.
- The consortium will continue with and possibly expand the current pilot research project underway at Newlands Corner.
- In the meantime, the consortium will seek to set up some case funded PhDs in conjunction with an industry partner and an additional academic partner.
- Discussion of the various indicators of increased yew tree stress and relevant site conditions observed during the day helped the group to formulate hypotheses to be tested by the research. These build upon the work and observations already done in this area by Geoff Monck in relation to both declining yews and oak decline.
- Treecosystems will continue to support managers of all three sites with identifying and addressing tree stress factors that can be managed. At Newlands Corner and Kingley Vale, visitor pressure and the resulting soil compaction damage are key threats requiring urgent intervention.
The Yew Tree Project
Research into the apparent widespread deterioration in physiological condition of yew trees in the southeast of England (and possibly further afield)