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Neighbour Abu Waji enjoys its shade

I put the information on “How to identify a heritage tree” on our web site for all to use free of charge to allow ordinary people to make an informed judgement to decide if a tree should be protected

An irreplaceable 1,500 year old ancient olive tree is set to become the latest casualty of the ongoing land dispute on the West Bank near Jerusalem. Too many large mature trees are being destroyed around the world so one of the UK’s top tree consultants Jeremy Barrell has created a method of identifying heritage trees that are at risk. This format was created originally for use by his clients of the Barrell Treecare Consultancy, for identifying specimen trees in New Zealand. This method enables even a relatively inexperienced person to fill in a questionnaire and from the score each answer receives, determines the tree heritage potential, and if so, should it receive special attention to protect it.

The ancient tree 1,500 year-old olive tree, located in the Palestinian village of Al Walaja, is within metres of the proposed route of the West Bank Barrier, a large construction project that is installing a new 8m tall concrete wall. If the wall is installed, the construction of its foundations and buffer zone will cause such significant damage to the tree that it is unlikely to survive.

Jeremy Barrell (www.barrelltreecare.co.uk), has been asked by the tree’s, nearest resident, Abu Waji, whose land is within the crown spread of the tree, to assess the heritage value of this unique specimen. Jeremy, an expert in managing sensitive trees and the designer of the TreeAH method of assessing heritage value (www.TreeAZ.com), has identified this tree as one of the highest scoring trees he has ever evaluated. Jeremy explained: “Wherever you go in the world, there are three heritage characteristics that always crop up; visibility, scientific importance and cultural value. Our method (TreeAH) scores each of these, which are added up to indicate how important the tree is in a national context. The maximum possible score for any tree is 20 heritage points, and this tree has hit that maximum; it is not possible to find a more important heritage tree!

“I put the information on “How to identify a heritage tree” on our web site for all to use free of charge to allow ordinary people to make an informed judgement to decide if a tree should be protected or not, as I care about trees,” explained Jeremy.

Many poor communities cannot afford professional help of a skill arboriculture advisor but this chart is proving useful. I do not get involved in the local politics but have provided a standard that all trees can be judged and then those that are considered worthy of protection have an accepted standard to argue their case."

Jeremy, who specialises in protecting vulnerable urban trees during development, knows all too well how sensitive such old trees are from his work on some of the most demanding London projects: “Ancient trees are just like old people, they are particularly vulnerable to changes around them, and for trees, even the smallest disruption in their rooting environment can tip them into an irreversible spiral of decline. Our experience is that protecting sensitive roots from being cut and preventing soil compaction, which indirectly kills roots, are essential priorities during construction. For such an ancient olive, if appropriate measures are not put in place to protect it during and after the wall construction, then its destruction is inevitable.”

Jeremy goes on to explain: “The problem with such old trees is that it is hard to put a cash value on their cultural importance; generations of people will have benefited from this tree’s shade, eaten its fruit and used it as a focal point for social gatherings. The tree is the direct link with those people, unique because it is a living witness to those events and irreplaceable because these links with the past can never be re-forged. There are so few of these ancient living relics left and they are being lost so quickly that each remaining tree becomes increasingly precious and worthy of special protection. Such a high scoring individual is right at the top of the heritage tree; I just hope that its immense cultural value will be recognised and it is saved.”

“I am pleased that my method is now being widely used around the world as a standard and I am hoping that the Arboriculture Association will incorporate many of my findings into the new regulations that they are planning to produce shortly. I care about protecting specimen trees for future generations and following the high number of times this has been down loaded shows how people care about trees. I am planning to have it available in several other languages including Chinese and Spanish so my heritage tree quantifier chart will be readily available for immediate use world-wide, free of charge.”

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Issued for an on behalf of Barrell Treecare Consultancy, Field House, Fordingbridge Business Park, Ashford Rd, Fordingbridge, Hampshire SP6 1BY England by Steamship 2000 Public Relations, 11 Cobbett Road, Bitterne Park, Southampton SO18 1HJ, England. For more information please contact Jeremy Barrell on + 44 01425 651 470 or mobile + 44 07791 531 468 or email jeremy@barrelltreecare.co.uk or www.barrelltreecare.co.uk or John Slade at Steamship 2000 PR on + 44 0238067 1621 or mobile + 44 07890 526 539 or email: john@steamship2000.co.uk

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