Posted 18th Mar 2016
The Conservation Foundation is producing a truly unique online map which will feature over 1,000 ancient and notable yews that are dotted around the UK as a part of its We Love Yew campaign
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the campaign is aiming to make the most of the UK's great collection of yew trees, one of the greatest in the world. Did you know, for instance, that they will often be one of the oldest living things in the landscape, having stood through centuries of change.
It is virtually impossible to tell how old a yew tree is, with experts disagreeing due to the absence of age rings in the oldest yews, as they are hollow. Most are measured and recorded over the years, which means that despite ageing problems, experts can be more confident of classifying which yews are 'veteran' - 500 to 800 years old - or 'ancient' - over 800 and up to several thousand years old.
The map is helping to highlight the distribution of our yew trees, with churchyards proving to be a particularly important site for yew tree heritage, home to almost 1,000 veteran and ancient yews. Interestingly there are no ancient yews in East Anglia.
The Conservation Foundation has encouraged greater awareness of the long heritage of yew trees since 1987. In 2015 the We Love Yew campaign was launched to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta by planting young yews that were propagated from trees that had been growing at the time of King John. It is widely believed that the Magna Carta was signed under an ancient yew that still grows along the Thames.
If you have a yew which you think should be on the map but isn't, contact www.ancient-yew.org
Image courtesy of The Conservation Foundation