• Outdoors Outdoors

Conservation adviser for the crown estate staunchly advocates for King Charles' protection of ancient trees in Britain: 'Our single biggest obligation is the care of our ancient trees'

"For me, the trees are trying to tell us things."

"For me, the trees are trying to tell us things."

Photo Credit: iStock

Ted Green, 89, has spent his life championing Britain's ancient forests. As a conservation adviser for the crown estate at Windsor, he's on a mission to protect the U.K.'s unique trove of old-growth trees and the biodiversity they support.

Green's passion for trees started early. Childhood illnesses kept him out of school, so from age 6, he roamed the woods of Windsor Great Park, developing an encyclopedic knowledge of the trees and wildlife.

As an adult, Green worked for decades as a technician at a nearby field station, assisting scientists from many disciplines. When budget cuts led to his redundancy, he became an adviser to the crown estate at Windsor, where he remains today.

The problem Green is working to solve is the lack of protection and appreciation for Britain's ancient trees. The U.K. has a wealth of old-growth trees, with England alone having over 3,400 oaks more than 400 years old — more than the rest of Europe combined.

Yet Green told The Guardian that there are "benches beside the River Thames that have more protection than our ancient trees."

Green is taking action by advocating for better legal protections, like a national listing system for ancient trees with funding for enforcement. He also advises landowners on how to manage their old trees.

Preserving ancient trees benefits people and the planet in myriad ways. A single old oak can support over 2,000 species of animals, plants, and fungi. Their expansive canopies provide cooling shade, and their deep roots prevent erosion and flooding.

Green pointed out that large, open-grown trees sequester far more carbon over their long life spans than commercial timber plantations, as Penn State Extension also explained. He called Britain's ancient trees "living heritage" and argued that they deserve the same reverence as historic buildings.

Some of Green's most impactful work has been at Windsor Great Park, which has one of the world's largest concentrations of ancient oaks. There, he has worked with King Charles to propagate and plant saplings grown from the oldest trees, preserving their unique genetics for future generations.

As Green said: "Conserving the genes of these ancient trees is absolutely priceless."

Green's ideas have also been pivotal in the rewilding movement. His advice helped convince the owners of Knepp Estate to return their land to nature, an effort that has since become a poster child for the benefits of rewilding.

At 89, Green shows no signs of slowing down his crusade for Britain's ancient trees. He recently self-published a memoir, Treetime, full of his deep knowledge and thought-provoking ideas from a lifetime among the trees.

As Green writes in Treetime: "For me, the trees are trying to tell us things... If we want to look at the health of Europe, we only have to look at the health of the trees.

"Our single biggest obligation is the care of our ancient trees."

Join our free newsletter for cool news and cool tips that make it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider