Written by: The Greensand Country Team
This project recorded, interpreted, and raised awareness of the heritage trees within Greensand Country. The project began with survey and mapping work of veteran, ancient, and champion trees led by David Alderman Director of the Tree Register. The results of this data were shared with partners at the Biological Record Centre, the Woodland Trust and the Tree Register. Data was also added to the Ancient Tree Inventory.
The next stage of the project was interpreting the heritage trees previously recorded. 10 sites were selected across Greensand Country:
- Rushmere Country Park
- Woburn Abbey
- Ampthill Great Park
- Flitwick Manor Park
- Maulden Wood
- Sandy Smith Nature Reserve
- St Leonard’s Church, Old Warden
- Moggerhanger Park
- Sandy-Everton on the Greensand Ridge Walk
- The RSPB Lodge, Sandy
Wooden posts with interpretation panels were installed at these sites, and will be complemented by downloadable information leaflets that will be added to the Greensand Country website.
Finally, the project made the subject of heritage trees more accessible by holding guided walks to highlight some of the key sites across the landscape.
A particular success of the project is the interpretation posts, which are an innovative way of giving information about the trees. The wooden design with the heart reinforces both the emphasis on the tree itself and its place within Greensand Country. We have received very positive feedback on social media, including from local walking groups.
The mapping and survey work is also vital to ensure that the heritage trees of the area are recorded and deposited within national databases. This will raise their profile and ensure they are recognised and better protected from development or ecological threats in the future.
Benefits to People
The project has benefited the wider community by making information about the heritage trees within Greensand Country more accessible. This has been achieved through the interpretation posts, downloadable leaflets, and guided walks.
The posts in particular have attracted much positive attention on social media, with comments about how insightful the information is. People have also been able to meet up on the guided walks, and have detailed and informative talks about the significance of the trees they pass.
Benefits to Heritage & Landscape
The interpretation board makes heritage relating to Greensand Country’s trees more accessible. For example, the panel at Moggerhanger’s cucumber tree highlights the c18th and c19th changes in tastes that led tree planting styles. The guided walk at Woburn also allowed the trees to be discussed within the wider setting of the historic parkland.
The landscape is better understood due to the mapping and surveying work that has occurred as a result of the project. Details of the ancient, veteran, and champion trees are now recorded with national bodies.
The digital and physical interpretation has made the trees of Greensand Country more accessible for those walking at sites or exploring the interactive map.
Challenges & Lessons Learnt
Gaining permissions for the installation of the interpretation posts was a challenge. The initial selection of 30 sites was soon reduced due to ownership issues, or unsuitability of the sites in terms of visibility of, or access to the tree.
Storm damage to the trees selected, such as the Strawberry Tree at the RSPB, Sandy required additional site visits and partner liaison to ensure that the interpretation post would still be sited correctly.
“It has been a pleasure highlighting these special trees to the various landowners and managers and inspiring them about the trees they are custodians of. I have received fabulous support for this project from the Greensand Country staff, everyone at the Greensand Trust and the many different people I have met whilst out recording trees, rain or shine!”
We learnt that an extended timeframe is required for land ownership liaison regarding the interpretation boards and content.
QR codes on the posts to open up a web page regarding information about all of the trees, rather than the homepage of the website, would make the information more accessible.