Con­ser­va­tion group is de­lighted to record its 15,000th spec­i­men

Chest­nut tree near Murthly cas­tle joins oth­ers on map for huge preser­va­tion pro­ject

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - JAMIE BUCHAN [email protected]­

A sweet chest­nut tree as old as Bon­nie Prince Char­lie has be­come the 15,000th spec­i­men recorded as part of an ex­haus­tive preser­va­tion pro­ject.

The gi­ant nat­u­ral land­mark at Murthly Cas­tle, Perthshire, has had its vi­tal statis­tics mea­sured by a band of con­ser­va­tion­ists who are ded­i­cated to map­ping out ev­ery sig­nif­i­cant tree in Bri­tain.

The An­cient Tree In­ven­tory be­gan as a lot­tery funded “tree hunt” 12 years ago. The first recorded in Scot­land was a chest­nut grow­ing at Ross­lyn Chapel.

The pro­ject works in two stages: The trees are first recorded by vol­un­teers, then checked by spe­cially trained ver­i­fiers.

Around 400 peo­ple have been in­volved since the pro­ject be­gan.

Kylie Mel­lor, the Wood­land Trust’s cit­i­zen sci­ence of­fi­cer, said: “An­cient trees are as much a part of our her­itage as stately homes, cathe­drals and works of art, but they don’t get the same pro­tec­tion.

“Iden­ti­fy­ing where an­cient trees are takes us one step closer to giv­ing them the care and pro­tec­tion they need.

“So to­day’s record­ing of the 15,000th tree in Scot­land is re­ally worth cel­e­brat­ing – and so are the ef­forts of the ded­i­cated band of tree recorders and ver­i­fiers who do this im­por­tant work.”

Bri­tain’s an­cient trees have no au­to­matic right of pro­tec­tion. There is no equiv­a­lent to Sched­uled An­cient Mon­u­ment sta­tus which sig­nif­i­cant ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites have.

Statis­tics at Murthly Cas­tle were recorded by vol­un­teers Judy Dowl­ing from St An­drews, Joan Sned­don from Largo, Noel Fo­jut from Ber­wick­shire, Clair McFar­lan from Dum­fries and Lorna Holl from Balmaha.

The tree is es­ti­mated to be more than 300 years old, with a re­mark­able trunk girth of nearly 20ft.

Ms Dowl­ing, lead ver­i­fier for Scot­land, said: “It is amaz­ing to reach this mile­stone, but we still have lots to do.

“We hear about new trees all the time, and I al­ways have my eyes peeled wher­ever I go around the coun­try. It takes you to some amaz­ing places. “I have just loved be­ing a part of this.” Wel­com­ing the tree hunters to Cas­tle Murthly Es­tate, Thomas Steuart-Fotheringham said: “We de­lighted that our sweet chest­nut is the 15,000th tree to go on the in­ven­tory.

“The de­signed land­scape has been a real fea­ture at Murthly for half a mil­len­nium and con­tin­ues to be highly val­ued.”

The map can be seen at the Wood­land Trust web­site.

“We hear about new trees all the time and I al­ways have my eyes peeled wher­ever I go around the coun­try. JUDY DOWL­ING

Pic­ture: Ge­orge An­der­son.

Joan Sned­don and Judy Dowl­ing dou­ble check the mea­sure­ments of the chest­nut tree, which is the 15,000th to join the An­cient Tree In­ven­tory.

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