Bid to save giant oak shows scale of threat - claim

The Clatterbury Oak
Clatterbury Oak in Clavering was at risk of being felled due to a proposed housing development [Woodland Trust]

A battle by villagers to save an old oak from being chopped down has laid bare the need for better protection for vulnerable trees, a conservation charity says.

Locals rallied to rescue the Clatterbury Oak in Clavering, Essex, after a developer wanted to build an access road to proposed new houses, before Uttlesford District Council turned down the planning application in March.

More than 1,600 people signed a petition to save the tree and the Woodland Trust backed the campaigners.

Jack Taylor, from the trust, said its Living Legends campaign was launched to try and ensure "our most precious trees to have the protection they need".

The Clatterbury Oak – which appeared on Victorian maps – has a tree preservation order on it, but the Woodland Trust hopes more trees can be saved following the fight.

"It is paramount that we oppose such developments and challenge attitudes that endanger our oldest and most cherished trees," said Mr Taylor.

"Most of our oldest trees are not legally protected.

"But trees like the Clatterbury Oak have witnessed hundreds of years of history, withstood all winds and weathers while providing valuable havens for thousands of precious species, locking up harmful carbon and purifying the air."

The conservationists want UK governments to give similar protection to trees as that bestowed on endangered wildlife and historic buildings and also bolster their development policies in favour of landmark trees.

"The Clatterbury Oak's immediate safety is assured, but its proximity to a busy road presents ongoing challenges for its preservation," said Mr Taylor.

In a report to the district council, its landscape officer wrote: "The ancient oak tree... has ecological value.

"It also contributes to the rural character and appearance of the area and is characteristic in the rural setting of the village."

Meanwhile, campaigners have been saving its acorns in order to plant 100 saplings around the village near Stansted Airport to preserve its heritage.

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