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Tree regeneration can stem lichen decline

Recent research from Sweden published in the Journal of Applied Ecology suggests that regeneration of trees in ancient tree hotspots can stem decline of important lichens and other epiphytes.

The researchers investigated five old-oak-associated epiphytic lichens. They reported that as old trees have declined in Europe due to agricultural intensification and forestry epiphytic species such as lichens associated with old and ancient trees are also declining. Shade-intolerant species on old trees in semi-open landscapes have been affected by the shading caused by plantation activity in secondary woodland.

The Lobarion a lichen community of ancient woodlands
The Lobarion a lichen community of ancient woodlands

Regular tree regeneration needed
The researchers concluded that the best conservation approach for long-term persistence of epiphytic lichens is to ensure regular tree regeneration in landscapes with a current high density of old trees. Slow extinction gives an opportunity to improve persistence by conservation actions, but the success depends on species traits and the current density of old trees. In landscapes with many old but few young trees, epiphytes may persist if conservation actions quickly address the need to increase tree regeneration rates.

Tree regeneration at Bodfach
Regeneration from ancient oaks on the Bodfach estate, Wales. Photo: Rob McBride

The Ancient Tree Hunt uses the data gathered so far in its database to assist landowners and communities with tree regeneration in important locations of wood pasture and parkland. At Bodfach in Wales, for example, many of the old and mature trees that were present 150 years ago have sadly today disappeared. Keen to replace these lost trees, the current owners of Bodfach Estate are working with the Woodland Trust to restore the park with a new generation of trees - the ancients of the future. Thanks to dedicated and trained Ancient Tree Hunt volunteer the site was surveyed and compared to old 1st Epoch OS maps to see where old trees had disappeared. The places were trees had been lost were identified, and have become the locations where the 60 new trees will be planted. Read more about the work at Bodfach here.

Download a guide to replanting ancient trees
Ancient Tree Guides - Trees for the future

More on lichens
You can download a useful guide on tree lichens from Plantlife, the wild plant charity here.

mapping the UK's ancient
& special trees

The Ancient Tree Hunt is a living database of ancient and special trees. More than 110,000 trees have been recorded by volunteers and partners.

14 March 2013
Bodfach Hall & Park (Ancient Tree Forum event)

Ancient Tree Forum 2013 Spring Visit
10am to 4pm on Thursday 14 March
Bodfach Hall and Park,
Llanfyllin, Powys

Booking essential ( by Friday 8 March 2013

Highlights from the Ancient Tree Hunt database

A pedunculate oak in Raehills Park, near Lockerbie, Dumfries

Pedunculate oak in Raehills Park

Pedunculate oak in Raehills Park, near Lockerbie. First recorded by Alan Mitchell (founder of the Tree Register/TROBI) in 1984 with a girth of 5.78m and then in 2011 by Jill Butler, recording a girth of 6.24m.

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Record trees on the ATH database