It’s not hard to see why national outdoor events are staged in beautiful tree-rich parkland. The choice of Greenwich Park for the 2012 Olympics Equestrian events is just a case in point. It’s a stunning historic park thick with trees of all sorts and ages including some very special ancient sweet chestnuts planted during the reign of Charles II. Likewise Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, full of veteran oaks, will play host to The Great Exhibition 2012, a festival showcasing the best of British during the Olympic summer.
These are just two of the many major shows, events and fairs this year that will attract millions of people, but does this put intolerable pressure on the lives of precious ancient trees?
The recently published Ancient Tree Guide No.8: Trees and events hopes to steer a sensitive course between the busy, successful event and the historic trees. Written by tree specialists in the Woodland Trust and arboriculturists in the Ancient Tree Forum, it sets out to give simple guidance to parkland owners and events organisers on the key things that can be done to protect the living assets that probably attracted the event to the venue in the first place. Big trees and big occasions can go hand in hand as long as careful thought is given to the tree and its environment at all stages in the planning and execution of the event. Trees will happily go on providing all their benefits if they and most importantly their roots, are given a wide enough berth.
What if the advice is ignored? If trees and most importantly their roots are damaged it can lead to a spiral of decline and untimely loss, causing a lasting impact beyond the period of the event on tourism and other ecosystem benefits. It makes sense to find a win-win solution so the participants or visitors and the trees all have a good time.
Jill Butler, Conservation Adviser (Ancient Trees)