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1,000-year-old oaks used to create 'super forest'

By Helen Briggs

Planting more trees is one of a combination of solutions to combating climate change, but some trees are far better than others. Which ones though? ​​Scientists have designed an experimental forest in England to work out the best formula for achieving ambitious tree planting targets.

"They've lived for so long; just think what they've seen." Forester Nick Baimbridge is gazing fondly at a majestic oak that has stood for more than a thousand years. On this wintry afternoon, birds sing from lichen-covered branches and a deer runs through the undergrowth.

There's a sense of timelessness about this medieval forest, which contains the greatest collection of ancient oak trees anywhere in Europe. Blenheim Palace, a few miles away across the park, is a mere youngster at 300 years old, quips Baimbridge, the head forester of the Blenheim Estate.

Standing under one of the oldest trees, he can only speculate on the turns of history witnessed by this "old girl", whose genetic heritage is set to live on through acorns collected from the forest floor.

The acorns, and the new generation of oaks they spawn, are crucial to the ambitions of an experimental "super forest" that is being planted where the rivers Dorn and Glyme wind their way through the Oxfordshire countryside.

The forest is spread across nine new neighbouring woodlands with the first trees planted out this winter.

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Friday, April 15, 2022