Exceptional Trees: Ambassadors of Nature Conservation

Exceptionality and extraordinariness have always excited us, such as exceptional trees that have survived several human generations. With their special characteristics these individual trees or tree groups stand out from the average, instill respect and arouse admiration. Find out more how protection of exceptional urban trees can contribute to the promotion of urban forests and raise nature conservation awareness in this blog by Janez Kermavnar.

The expression ‘exceptional (heritage) tree’ refers to trees with outstanding traits. There are different categories of exceptional trees, depending on the criteria used. Trees of exceptional dimensions (usually thickness and height) are the easiest to spot. Some of trees can be designated as worthy of preservation due to their age, aesthetic quality, historical and cultural significance, particular treetop shape or unusual trunk form. Other trees stand out due to their exceptional rarity or non-nativity, while some trees are special because of their peculiar position. Many exceptional trees have interesting stories or even secrets. The more a tree’s physical appearance is eye-catching and magnificent, the more spiritual symbolism is attributed to it. That’s why so many exceptional trees are connected to myths and legends.

A wonderful gingko tree, creating a priceless scenery for citizens.

Exceptional trees can be found in densely forested landscapes and in urbanized areas. Because exceptional trees growing deep inside forests are less noticeable than similar trees in urban spaces (parks, streets), exceptional trees growing in cities could play a more prominent role.

I did a quick research on exceptional trees in the City of Ljubljana. According to the register of the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation and the inventory of tree heritage, there are approximately 110 trees recognized as valuable natural features in the City of Ljubljana. Most of them are of exceptional dimensions (beech trees, oaks, non-native species …), officially protected by the municipal decrees from the early 1990`s. Protected trees are divided into those of national or local importance and are located on public or private properties.

The country of Slovenia is intersected by important natural areas. It owns a few truly notable and well-known trees that had been given special attention and importance. One of them is the highest spruce tree in Europe – the Sgerm spruce on the Pohorje Mountains with 62,3 m! Exceptional trees are spatially well-defined spots. Unlike Natura 2000 sites, where some habitat areas are protected, so it seems, just to create disagreement (due to restrictions) between public and private interests. In this I see the biggest problem regarding nature conservation.

Visiting a remarkable chestnut tree in an urban park.

Taking care of important parts of nature is becoming increasingly popular. Exceptional trees are natural monuments and a living proof how extraordinary nature really is. By highlightning their presence throughout educational trails we can raise public awareness about the importance of nature conservation. Exceptional trees are not only ambassadors of nature conservation but, ultimately, also the interface between conservation and urban forestry.

This blog post is authored by Janez Kermavnar and is a part of the #EFUF2016 blog competition.

Featured photos by The Bode and Tim Sheerman-Chase.


2 thoughts on “Exceptional Trees: Ambassadors of Nature Conservation

  1. Naomi Zurcher April 25, 2016 / 2:00 pm

    Janez, thanks so very much for this posting. It’s an encouragement to attend EFUF and visit as many of these “exceptional” trees as possible. I would also like to add that, as a proponent of those urban tree warriors – the trees that live curbside along many or our urban streets – “exceptional” takes on many definitions when it comes to the trees that one has an intimate experience with.

    Trees that can thrive in an urban setting are all “exceptional”, regardless their size or species-specific characteristics and deserve our profound respect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. C Glaeser May 6, 2016 / 1:15 pm

    Janez, thank you also for your write up on noting exceptional trees found across the urban landscape. And i agree whole hardedly with Naomis comments above.

    While you state that many of these trees are “protected”, it would be helpful to expand on what those protections actually mean. Protected from what? Protected from disease and pests? Protected from being cut and removed? or protected in the way that preserves the tree from construction impacts and damages (should those exceptional trees find themselves within a construction and excavation operation). And then what? What are the protections ? Protection criteria need to be explicit not just in terms of treatments for those trees, but most important explicitly outlining a change in the behavior of the engineer, architects and contractors that likely do not understand trees, tree growth and tree root architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

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