The Tree Register Latest News
Bath is blessed with many fine tourist attractions and on a hill above the city is the University of Bath which has trained some very famous Olympic Champions. But Bath boasts many more champions and sadly not many people know about them. Now a group of children is about to put that right.
Under the guidance of Mark Cassidy, B&NES tree officer and members of The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI), the children searched Bath’s Botanical Gardens to locate, identify and measure some of the city’s most significant Champion Trees.
BRLSI hosts STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) children’s hands on workshops on the 2nd Saturday of each month. The Champion Tree workshop was the second tree workshop organized in the last six months. On this occasion, children were encouraged to use maths, link it to a proficiency in map reading and then demonstrate research, observation and recording skills. The aim was to excite children with the life stories of the trees but also to use the information they collected to form the basis for a BRLSI self guided Family Trail to help visitors and citizens enjoy Bath’s considerable collection of Champion Trees.
Before they could do anything, they made simple clinometers to enable them to measure the trees accurately. Mark then clarified the characteristics of a Champion, the role of The Tree Register and the essential skills needed to identify and measure trees accurately. He also explained that a lot of generous people living in the city in the 19th century planted trees for future generations. “We are part of those future generations now. We are the first to see fully mature specimens which were brought back to Bath, as seeds from all round the world, a century and half ago. It’s thanks to those Victorians that we’ve got so many Champions today.”
So armed with practical knowledge, surveyors’ tapes, a map of the Botanical Gardens, clipboards and pencils, they stepped out into the pouring rain! They were intrepid.
Four teams of children worked in four separate areas. Each team was aided by BRLSI volunteers. Once they had located a possible Champion they set about measuring it. Mark and several ‘roving’ BRLSI members circulated the gardens ensuring that they had found what they were looking for and helping them check the accuracy of their measurements. This was the first time The Champions had been checked for eight years and the children were amazed to find that trees shrink and that some, on account of age, might have retired in grace and despite their magnificence, were no longer champions.
When the children returned to the BRLSI and dried out, the hard work began. How to devise and design the trail. What to call it and what to include. Should instructions on how to make a clinometer be part of the trail? What about their history?
The Trail will be published early in July, just in time for families to go on a summer holiday journey of discovery.
by Mark Cassidy
The Pontfadog Oak was the largest Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea) in Wales (12.85m girth) and one of the oldest oak in northern Europe
Estimated to be over 1,000 years old the Pontfadog Oak fell during strong winds on the night of 18th April. Large cracks had been seen and following heavy snow falls the tree was in a vulnerable state
Read a press release by the Woodland Trust: http://www.woodlandtrust.presscentre.com/News-Releases/Wales-loses-its-oldest-oak-tree-the-Pontfadog-Oak-de3.aspx
Image supplied by Rob McBride