Protect our living legends

Right now, most ancient trees have no real legal protection in the UK. Many face a range of threats.

In the last 150 years, 50% of large trees have been lost from parts of Eastern England.
Three quarters of ancient trees are found outside of legally protected wildlife sites.
Local communities across the UK are having to take drastic measures to save important trees in their communities. Not every campaign succeeds.

These national treasures should be here to stay. They deserve the same sort of protection enjoyed by old buildings, beloved national recipes and other endangered wildlife – some of which can't survive without ancient trees.

Add your voice for better protection for our oldest and most special trees

The UK’s oldest trees are internationally important. The UK has more ancient oak trees than the rest of Europe combined – and a duty of care for these national treasures.

As a society we protect castles, ancient monuments, art, endangered wildlife. But somehow, we’ve missed our oldest and most important trees – even though some are more than a thousand years old.

Right now, ancient trees have no automatic right of protection in the UK. Change is needed in each UK country - either to improve our current policies and laws or to introduce new ones.

In each UK country policies and legislation for planning, farming and nature recovery are being developed.

We want to see, for each country in the UK:

  • Legally protected heritage status for some of our most ancient and important trees
  • Strong, consistent policy protection for old trees
  • More support for land managers and farmers to care for ancient and veteran trees

Our living legends are all around us. They’re the 200-year-old trees greening our housing estates. The 1,000-year-old yew tree standing proud in your local churchyard. Their survival and ongoing conservation must be prioritised and improved. In a climate and nature emergency the avoidable loss of any old and important trees must be prevented.

How we’ll use your support for trees

Power to make changes is in the hands of governments across the UK. We’ll use your support to push governments to improve tree protection at all levels. Current opportunities include but are not limited to:

In England the Government is proposing changes to wildlife sites and species protections and changes to the planning system.

In Scotland the Scottish Government is due to consult on a draft biodiversity strategy which will outline its plans for recovering nature.

In Wales the Welsh Government is reviewing ancient tree and woodland protection and preparing a new Sustainable Farming Scheme. The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires that sustainable development and well-being goals are met, including a resilient and biodiverse natural environment.

In Northern Ireland as the least wooded region in the UK, the recently elected MLAs have the opportunity to introduce new legislation and policies that provide greater protection for Northern Ireland’s existing trees.
Tell your government to protect our living legends now.