Project aims to catalogue our ancient trees

A tree is planted at the new Woodland Centre at Kirkley Hall to commemorate the launch of the Northumbria Veteran Tree Project.
A tree is planted at the new Woodland Centre at Kirkley Hall to commemorate the launch of the Northumbria Veteran Tree Project.

People are being asked to nominate their favourite trees for a new conservation project.

The Northumbria Veteran Tree Project aims to map ancient and notable trees across the old Northumbria regions of Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.

The project, launched at Kirkley Hall, is the result of a partnership between Northumberland College and Defra and funded through a £65,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Nick Johnson, arboriculture course leader at the college, has been the driving force behind the project since its inception.

He said: “I had seen veteran tree projects being conducted by various organisations across the country but Northumberland was never represented.

“We live in one of the least charted areas in the UK in tree terms yet have one of the most diverse and undisputedly resilient range of species to be found anywhere in the country. From our native junipers and the William Cleugh pines, to those magnificent trees planted on our country estates, in our cities and in our churchyards across the region, we have much to celebrate and applaud which is why we have established the Northumbria Veteran Tree Project.

“We want members of the public to get out and about, enjoy our trees, tell their stories and help to put them on the map to protect and conserve them for future generations to enjoy.”

Each nominated tree will be recorded by a team of volunteers who will assess the tree to see if it meets the criteria. The details will then be added to an online database.

Ivor Crowther, head of Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, people in Northumbria have a unique opportunity to put the ancient and significant trees they love quite literally on the map and celebrate their stories and heritage. As well as benefitting an integral element of our landscapes, this project will also revive traditional woodland skills and reignite love for our region’s trees.”

The project team will be headquartered at the new Woodland Centre which will open soon at Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall campus.

The centre, which is being made possible through a £88,000 grant provided by the Rural Development Programme for England and administered by the Rural Payments Agency, will provide a new, state-of-the-art hub for local schools and not-for-profit organisations to learn more about the natural environment and take part in traditional woodland crafts and activities hosted by the college.