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Six thousand trees and counting

Volunteers in Wokingham started surveying veteran trees six years ago and now the group has gained more than 200 members and has many thousands of tree records under its belt

The Ancient Tree Hunt database would not exist without the dedicated work of many organisations and enthusiasts who survey, record, verify and supply data on our ancient trees from all parts of the United Kingdom.

In Wokingham in Berkshire what began in 2006 as a volunteer veteran tree survey has grown into active tree group with more than 200 members, and more than 6,300 trees on its database by 1 January 2013. Officially formed in early 2007 the Wokingham District Veteran Tree Association is a fantastic example of how local volunteers can form a strong and vibrant organisation to support their tree life. The group's main aim is to record all veteran trees in the Wokingham district, which includes all the parishes in the Borough.

WDVTA maps link to the online database
The WDVTA online map pinpoints local trees in the database

The WDVTA covers Wokingham, Earley and Woodley and the 14 parishes in the wider district. It is any area with many ancient and veteran trees in its towns and parishes, including some ancient oaks that grew in the original Windsor Forest.

The association was funded initially by a grant from the Wokingham Society and supported by the local council who commissioned help from The Conservation Volunteers. Grants to assist the project have also been made by town and parish councils, the National Lottery Awards for All scheme, the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC) and TCV.

Volunteers started surveying Wokingham's veteran trees in 2006 and nearly a thousand trees had been recorded by the end of the Association's first year. By the end of 2010, over 4000 trees had been surveyed and their details recorded in the WDVTA database. The total by the beginning of 2013 was 6,342, with more than 7,000 images added as well.

Since the early days it has extended its activities to include talks, workshops, walks and visits as well as campaigning about local trees, exploring the history of old trees and making presentations about WDVTA to local organisations. In 2010 it broadened its objectives to include a concern for all Wokingham's trees and not just veterans.

Two oaks recorded by WDVTA members
Two oaks in Shinfield recorded by WDVTA members

The group encourages its members and supporters to provide pictures of trees - and in particular ash trees at the moment - which is such a good way to visualise the importance of trees in the landscape even if they are lost.

The two oaks now lost to development
The two oaks now gone, to make way for development

For information about WDVTA and their upcoming activities and events visit their site.

TREE FOCUS
Highlights from the Ancient Tree Hunt database

The Darley Oak, Cornwall
The Darley Oak, Cornwall

Possibly 1000 years old and still going strong! The Darley Oak, on the edge of Bodmin Moor, has certainly seen some action in its time and has even been a venue for some rather unusual tea parties, as long ago as 1727 – inside a hollow in the trunk! Age began to take its toll and the great canopy section collapsed in the 1980s so the parties had to stop..

This wonderful tree is the subject of much local folklore, too, with special healing properties for various ailments and diseases. Its acorns, of which there were many in the past, were used as good luck charms during pregnancy. Allegedly, wishes will be granted to anyone who passes through the hollow and circles the girth.

View the ATH dynamic maps

Record trees on the ATH database