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13th May 2019

The value of special trees to tourism, the economy and national capital

The Ancient Tree Forum’s view, in partnership with the Tree Register of the British Isles, is that special trees – those that are ancient, veteran, champion or rare make many of our quintessentially British parks and gardens truly great – culturally, historically and for biodiversity. That they are also very popular for visitors is evident from research conducted by VisitBritain showing that a third of overseas tourists to the UK spent part of their trip at a park or garden, more than those who spent time at a museum, castle, historic house or art gallery.

The research demonstrated that the value to visitors was especially high in cities and towns. In London this is obvious from the popularity of the Royal Parks such as Bushy Park, Greenwich Park and Kensington Palace Gardens and those of the City of London who own and manage places such as Epping Forest or Hampstead Heath. The legacy from Victorian times which stopped these and other green spaces across the UK being built over is of huge value to us all today as they are some of the best collections of ancient and other veteran trees in Europe and perhaps the world.

The Department of Media, Culture and Sport Committee (made up of MPs) called for evidence on how gardens and parks contribute to tourism, the economy and national heritage. The ATF has responded because  it was a good opportunity to emphasise the value that special trees make in these situations, draw attention to their vulnerability to increased people pressure, and to call for new thinking on how to safeguard them and their values into the future.

ATF’s view is that:

  1. Growth in development and tourism and therefore visitor numbers is in some cases unsustainable and needs to be managed very carefully to protect valuable trees and failure to do so risks serious damage to these valued, historic landscape assets.
  2. The ATF again calls for special recognition of Trees of National Special Interest and ancient wood pasture and parkland priority habitat. Best practice management should be encouraged through incentives but also backed up by appropriate regulation, policy and national guidance.

View full consultation response here

Posted by: Kate Crook

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