Savernake Forest’s ancient – or veteran – trees are a priceless part of the Marlborough area’s heritage and natural history. And they need looking after.
The Forestry Commission has leased the Forest from the Savernake Estate since 1939 and has the responsibility of managing the trees within Savernake Forest. The Commission has contracted the specialist conservation organisation Plantlife to re-survey the large number of ancient trees in Savernake Forest.
This involves getting an accurate location for each tree using GPS and photographing each tree, including the large fallen and standing deadwood trees – which are a key element of natural woodland.
The survey is being carried out by Plantlife’s woodland adviser, Paul Rutter who explained to Marlborough News Online: “It is important to understand what these trees need to be able to survive for so long – up to 800 years and beyond in the case of oak and sweet chestnut species.”
“This means putting into place a very long term management strategy. So we are including recommendations as to what this strategy should be and how it can be achieved, while also ensuring the complex bio diversity of the forest is conserved and enhanced.”
So far Paul Rutter has surveyed over 2,000 trees and these will be mapped with all the individual information on each tree. The work will be continuing into next year and beyond.
He would welcome support from local volunteers who could add information about the surveyed trees and record what lives in and around each one over the coming years.
Plantlife has also conducted a lichen survey. This reveals where the important and often endangered species are found and helps to marry the trees to the lichen communities and so assist with future management of the forest.
Paul Rutter is arranging a training session on October 24 in Savernake Forest from 12:00 pm until 3:00pm. Anyone interested should contact him in the first instance: Paul.Rutter@plantlife.org.uk.