The UK’s 121 million mighty oaks support more animal and plant species than any other tree
Blenheim Palace is quite something. If you’ve not been, I’d recommend it. I went recently and was wowed by the place. Even the tearoom is beyond grand, but what impressed me most was the palace’s setting – the beautiful parkland.
As a bit of a tree-fancier, it was a thrill to see so many venerable old trees. Apparently, the British Isles has more ancient trees than all of the continent put together, and that’s largely down to a national passion for landscaped parkland like Blenheim’s.
A recent study at Blenheim concluded that 60 or more of the oaks date back to the Middle Ages. Some are around 1,000 years old. Of course, most of us don’t have an estate to grow oak trees in, but there’s a good chance that there are oaks not that far from your garden.
The UK has about 121 million of them (of which nearly a million are in London). In cities and towns they’re street trees, or grow in parks and other open spaces.
All urban and suburban trees are important for wildlife, but oaks are the most important. They support more animal and plant species than any other tree.
Here’s just one example. Mighty oaks do grow from tiny acorns, but most acorns get eaten. Squirrels, mice, nuthatches, jays and wood pigeons will all make a meal of an acorn, as do deer and even badgers.
Wherever you live, there are so many reasons to value oaks. Which makes it especially worrying that the 21st century seems to be a difficult time for them.
There are concerns about a number of diseases, including honey fungus and a condition called acute oak decline. We’ve so many oaks, but we really shouldn’t take them for granted. l A new appeal called Action Oak is working to protect oaks for future generations. Find out more at www.actionoak.org.
There are around 121 million oak trees in the UK, and squirrels are one of their most frequent customers