Learning Something New Every Day!

Published: Friday 19th Jun 2015

Written by: Ginnie James

I love trees. On the whole I find them very beautiful and they are so often majestic and the focal point of my favourite landscapes. There is a particular tree that I can see from the main road not far from my house that I always anticipate with pleasure driving past and my daughter also seems to be taking after me as she loves it when we drive along the lanes where, at the moment, it feels as if you are in a living tunnel of green – “into the trees!” she exclaims in delight.

As much as I appreciate all the trees around me I don’t usually think about them in any depth but I found an article on BBC Earth a week or so ago that really surprised me. The headline: “Scientists from the charity Plantlife find rare lichens in the internationally important, and threatened, temperate rainforest of North West Wales”. Rainforest? When I think of rainforests I picture the amazon, tropical scenes and exotic plants and animals, not a soggy wood in Snowdonia. After a quick Google search however I discovered that temperate rainforests are just as important, and vulnerable, as some areas of tropical rainforests.

The Meirionnydd Oakwoods, part of the Celtic Rainforest, are a Special Area for Conservation and the research project organised by the charity Plantlife has highlighted how ecologically important this pristine habitat is. Don’t be put off though, having a classified rainforest doesn’t mean that if you come to Snowdonia it will be raining! The Atlantic Oakwood forest makes the most of a climate influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and creates a canopy that retains moisture and protects the rare populations of lichens, mosses and the like that thrive in these conditions.

Wales also lays claim to one of the oldest trees in Britain. Through the process of dendrochronology (study of a tree’s rings and other properties to age them, provide data on climate change and such things) an ancient yew tree is a small churchyard in Mid Wales has been found to be possibly over 5000 years old! The tree in the churchyard of St Cynog’s, near Sennybridge, is 60ft wide and it is thought that it was planted on the edge of a Neolithic burial mound that is now enclosed within the church grounds.

The yew tree is a great example also of how particular species of trees can hold a special place in our history and culture having been an important religious symbol since prehistoric times. There is no shortage of trees to feast your eyes upon in Wales - woods to wander through, forests with mountain bike trails to hurtle down or the windswept specimens along the coast path. The pictures I have included are a couple of my favourite of our cottage gardens.

Do you like the woods and being amongst the trees or do you prefer wide open spaces? When you think of trees do you want to climb them or just enjoy their shade? Do let me know and any pictures would of course be welcomed!

Ginnie James
Ginnie James



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