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Do you know your oak from your ash?

 By Esta Mion, Communications Manager at the Forestry Commission

Did you know that the average living room has ten items made from trees, or that 300 insects live in just one silver birch tree? How often do1046886Looking up into the crown of an old oak tree. New Forest you read a newspaper, sit on a sofa or write on a piece of paper?

This week, the Forestry Commission has launched a new campaign that explores the world of trees and reveals what an incredible contribution they make to our lives.

Tree Explorer aims to help people identify and learn more about our many different tree species, uncovering some amazing facts that most of us probably didn’t know before.

The campaign includes a new online tree identification tool, which can help you to identify a variety of species from a willow in your garden, to a sycamore tree in your local park or nearby forest.

Here in the New Forest you’ll find the new Tree Explorer trail located at Blackwater, on Rhinefield Ornamental Drive next to the majestic Douglas firs and redwoods. It’s an ideal walking trail for families with pathways that are fairly smooth with one gentle slope, but it can get muddy in places. The 1.7mile trail begins and ends at the Blackwater car park, which has toilets and picnic tables available, making it a great place for families to discover how to tell our trees apart and learn some tree-mendous facts!

 You can learn how to identify trees using their leaves, bark and seeds, and delve into fascinating facts along the way. To encourage the family to learn to love the trees around them try our Tree Explorer activity pack, which you can download for free by following this link: https://www.forestry.gov.uk/treeexplorer-activities

The pack is designed to encourage children to try their hand at being a tree scientist, step into the world of a wildlife ranger, or learn about the day job of our foresters.

Five top tree facts:

  • They say life begins at 40; it really does for an oak tree! They don’t start producing acorns until then and reach peak production when they are 80-120 years old. 
  • Scots pine can live up to 8.5 times longer than the average person in the UK, to the ripe old age of 700.
  •  Climate change champions! Trees reduce the impact of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and storing the carbon in their wood.
  •  New flour fad? Romans used to grind sweet chestnuts for their baking bonanzas. Their leaves have been used to treat whooping cough and rheumatism and stiffness in joints and muscles.
  •  Heavyweight winner! A joint made of ash is said to be able to bear more weight than any type of wood. It’s a great source of firewood too, with its name deriving from the word ‘firelight’.

We want to lead the way in engaging people of all ages with how amazing trees are and what an important role they play in our lives. Here in the New Forest a huge variety of tree species grow, but have you ever stopped to look at the different types and find out more about them?

Across England, the Forestry Commission manages around 20% of the country’s woodlands for people, wildlife and timber. We currently harvest approximately 1.4 million cubic metres of timber a year, which is used for buildings, fencing, furniture, wood fuel and more.

Many people don’t realise that the New Forest is a working forest, some areas, known as Inclosures, were fenced and planted with trees to satisfy the country’s timber demands after the Second World War. The New Forest produces approximately 50,000 tonnes of timber per year, the harvesting operations move around the forest's timber Inclosures on different rotations. When woodlands are well managed, they are incredibly important to the local economy, society and the environment.

The trees around us are also beneficial for our health and they provide numerous habitats for wildlife. We hope our new campaign will inspire you to discover more about the wonderful world of trees on your doorstep.

For more information about how to get to Blackwater Car Park visit: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/englandhampshirenoforestnewforestblackwater

Follow our Tree Name Trail to identify a tree by its leaves:

https://www.forestry.gov.uk/treenametrail

 

Last updated: 17th June 2017

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.