Ancient tree survey
In early 2011 we surveyed ancient trees in the Plumpton and East Chiltington parishes, with a view to contributing our records to the ancient tree hunt website.
We recorded 64 trees that can be regarded as ancient.
To calculate the age of a tree we use an accepted formula. We measure the girth at 1.5m above ground level and, if it meets the criteria for that species (150cm for silver birch, hawthorn rowan and field maple; 230cm for cherry, holly, hazel and hornbeam; 300cm for ash, beech, Scot’s pine, alder, willow and yew; 450cm for oak, sycamore, lime, horse chestnut, sweet chestnut, elm, poplar, other pines and exotics), it can be officially recorded as ancient. Not all these species are found in the parish though.
We also record the grid reference, the form (maiden, pollard, multi-stemmed) and other features such as the presence of fungi, moss and lichen, and whether there are hollows and crevices where birds might nest and bats might roost.
For multi-stemmed trees, we measure the girth where the multi-stems rise and record the height at which this measure is taken. At first glance, from the size of the individual stems, multi-stemmed trees look as if they are quite young. But when you measure the base it becomes obvious, from their huge dimensions, that they are indeed ancient. Many of these multi-stemmed trees are found on the banks of the streams that run through the parish and the size of their vast basal trunks is only apparent if you climb down into the stream itself.
Of the 64 ancient trees recorded, most are field maples (22) and ash (19). We have also recorded six oak, four hornbeam, three silver birch, three hawthorn and single examples of Turkey oak, Monterey cypress, holly, willow, alder and hazel.
If you’d like to help with the survey, get in touch. It isn’t difficult to do. You need to be prepared to do some scrambling, wading and burrowing through undergrowth, but it’s great fun and there’s still a lot of the two parishes that we haven’t yet surveyed.