Oxfordshire has Europe’s largest collection of ancient oak trees

Staff at Blenheim Park have recorded an astonishing 291 living ancient oak trees, making it the largest collection in Europe.

King Oak. © Blenheim Palace

Conservation charity the Woodland Trust is challenging people across the UK to find and map ancient trees, after its Ancient Tree Inventory project helped confirm the biggest collection of ancient oak trees in Europe

Advertisement

Ancient trees are those with a girth of at least five metres. Blenheim Park has 291 –220 of these are in High Park, and 71 are elsewhere in Blenheim.

High Park is currently closed to the public, due to it being a fragile Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Anyone can search for and record trees on the inventory, which has been running for over a decade. There are already 160,000 trees listed, but thousands more to add.

Ancient oak tree. © Blenheim Palace
Ancient oak tree. © Blenheim Palace

“Ancient and veteran trees are the fattest, knobbliest, and most fascinating specimens of trees. They have countless stories to tell and support huge networks of native flora and fauna,” says Kylie Harrison-Mellor, citizen science officer from the Woodland Trust. “They were recently given better protection under the National Planning Policy Framework but unless we know where they are, we can’t campaign against their damage and destruction.”

Oak tree. © Blenheim Palace
Oak tree. © Blenheim Palace

The public can take an active part in defending some of our most valuable habitat by recording sightings of trees for the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Inventory.

Harrison-Mellor adds:“We know there are thousands out there we haven’t found yet, who knows, there could still be a bigger collection of ancients waiting to be discovered.”

Advertisement

Main image: King Oak. © Blenheim Palace