The Durham Veteran Trees Project - cataloguing the North East's historic trees

PUBLISHED: 15:59 05 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:50 20 February 2013

The two Wellingtonia in South Park, Darlington. Wellingtonia are the largest trees in the world and can live for up to 3,400 years, although these examples are younger, having been planted in 1863 to commemorate the wedding of the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The only other known multi-stemmed Wellingtonia is at Stratfield Saye House, Hampshire, leading The Tree Council to place these two specimens in the top ten trees in Britain.

The two Wellingtonia in South Park, Darlington. Wellingtonia are the largest trees in the world and can live for up to 3,400 years, although these examples are younger, having been planted in 1863 to commemorate the wedding of the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The only other known multi-stemmed Wellingtonia is at Stratfield Saye House, Hampshire, leading The Tree Council to place these two specimens in the top ten trees in Britain.

The North East's historic trees have been catalogued, as John Dean reports

They have seen history unfold, the silent sentinels who have watched for hundreds of years as the world has changed around them. Now, some of the most remarkable trees in the North East have been recorded in a two-year project that will be used to protect them for generations to come.

The survey was conducted by naturalists working for the Heritage Lottery-funded Durham Veteran Trees Project, which is run by the Durham Biodiversity Partnership and supported by Durham Wildlife Trust.

More than 500 volunteers walked countless miles to record the locations of 1,200 old and notable trees across County Durham, Darlington, Wearside and the Gateshead area. The result is a Guide to Veteran trees, which features 52 of the most outstanding specimens. In addition, a database has been compiled so planners and local authority conservation teams can ensure they are protected from development and associated activities.

Volunteers are continuing to submit new records, all of which add to the national Ancient Tree Hunt database.


Helen Ryde, the Implementation Officer of Durham Biodiversity Partnership, said: The idea has been to highlight the importance of trees, not just in themselves but as habitats for wildlife as well.

The survey showed how much people love their trees. They are so enthusiastic about them and so many people have personal memories about specific trees. However, for all that, they may not know hold old they are, may not know any of their history, or realise what is special about them.

The survey set out to compile all that information and our volunteers spent many hours searching our area. Although we have reached 1,200 trees and the guide has been published, the project is not over.

We are encouraging people to continue to add to the database. The information is important because it means that organisations involved in managing land know where the trees are and there is always the chance that we missed some in our initial search.


This is very much a living project. We still get records coming in.

The guide and a series of walks taking in some of the trees, can be accessed at www.durhamveterantrees.org.uk. If you know a tree that is worthy of inclusion, contact the partnership through the same website.

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