Ted Green champions ancient forests

The ecologist shares his views on the conservation of irreplaceable, uniquely biodiverse living monuments for their vital genetics in the next generation of ancient trees.

Ancient Maple tree

In his article for the Guardian, Patrick Barkham is taken on a tour of Windsor Great Park by Ted Green MBE, the conservation adviser to the crown estate at Windsor. Green colourfully described by Barkham as a key conservation revolutionary, highlights that ancient trees should be viewed as “1000-year-old gene bank with more than thousand-year-old gene-bank soil” and that the conservation of those genes from ancient trees is absolutely vital as they are “priceless”.

As part of the woodland’s management and conservation in Windsor Great Park, sapling trees are propagated from twigs of ancient trees to preserve their unique genes and planted in the soil associated with the ancient tree. According to Green that soil contains vital mycorrhizal fungi and micro-organisms which is vital to “colonise the graft sapling’s roots” to ensure the biological continuity of the species supported by the original old tree.

An interesting article and a message to heed as despite pressure, ancient trees have yet to be granted protection status. There is no equivalent to Scheduled Ancient Monument status for ancient trees, which important archaeological sites have and often remain completely unprotected from destruction. In the article, Green wishes for “trees to command the same respect and recognition that we give our historic buildings” as “Trees are living heritage”.

Green founded the Ancient Tree Forum (ATF) and has been an inspiration to many, particularly in relation to the insight and knowledge he has shared in the care, management, and protection of ancient trees. Known for his ability to bring people and ideas together from a range of disciplines has helped shape the ATF. He stood down as an ATF trustee in 2016 and continues to work in the field with organisations such a the Arboricultural Association (AA), the Knepp rewilding project and as advisor to the Crown Estate, Windsor. Green received an MBE in recognition of his work in conservation, particularly fungi and ancient trees. He has received the AA Award for his contribution to arboriculture, the Royal Forestry Society’s Gold medal for services to forestry. Moreover, for his ability to share this knowledge, Green received the the honorary lectureship award at Imperial College, University of London

In December 2023, Green’s new book Treetime was released, which is published by the Arboricultural Association charity and was funded by Green himself from a win on premium bonds. He is a fierce critic of the “current unimaginative national crusade to cover our countryside in dense, dark, lifeless plantation forestry … under the guise of carbon capture”.