Ancients of the Future has now finished - see what the project has achieved here

Violet Click Beetle is found at just
sites in England
Royal Splinter Cranefly recorded at only
sites in the world
species in the UK rely on ancient trees

What are “ancients of the future”?

There is something about ancient trees that inspires wonder; they are often rich in history and cultural heritage. But ancient trees, historic wood pasture and parkland are also some of the most important and exciting habitats for wildlife in the UK. An astonishing amount of UK wildlife is reliant on these ancient trees – over 2,000 species. The trees seem indomitable, their habitats and wildlife secure, but actually they are under threat and declining.

Why is this habitat at risk?

The key challenge facing ancient trees and the wildlife that relies on them is habitat continuity. Without that, much of their wildlife will be unable to survive. There is a growing threat from the increased prevalence of tree diseases and, potentially, climate change. Of greatest concern is the age gap between the existing ancient trees, rich in biological and cultural history, and the “ancients of the future”.

How we brought back the “ancients of the future”

This Back from the Brink project, led by Buglife, worked with landowners and managers in key places across England. We also secured vital continuity in some of our most iconic landscapes, focusing on 28 highly threatened species. These included the Violet Click Beetle, the Royal Splinter Cranefly, Eagle’s-claw Lichen, Coral-tooth Fungi, Knothole Moss and the Noctule Bat.

We called on expert and citizen science, and trialled new survey and management techniques. Crucially, we worked with a range of practitioners, from land managers to tree surgeons and historic landscape architects; developing a toolbox of training, information and guidance, to influence how sites are managed in future and raise awareness about species. We wanted to change public attitudes to ancient trees and decay-loving creatures and fungi.

What we achieved

Amongst other things we extended the life of over 200 important veteran trees so that they can continue to provide valuable habitat for years to come, whilst the newcomers mature. We also translocated 3 threatened lichen species and inoculated 40 trees with a threatened fungi species. Site managers and tree experts are now more aware of the importance of their sites and trees, for some of the UK’s rarest species.

If you would like to find out more about the work that we did then check out our project report.

View inside hollow section of oak fallen tree
Full view sitting on branch
Oak Moss (Evernia prunastri) lichen growing on the trunk of an oak tree, Moccas Park National Nature Reserve, Herefordshire, England.
Velvet Tooth - Hydnellum spongiosipes - (c) Wikimedia 1024
Violet Click Beetle - Limoniscus violaceus (c) Roger Key
Peregrine Bush male stag beetle
IP02_M_Coral_ tooth_Hericium_coralloides_copyright_Martin_Hlauka

Project contact

General Enquiries Buglife

Species Information Guides


Best Practice Approach to Cross Taxa Management Workshop

Note - presentations can be viewed as PowerPoint slide show with narration by selecting 'play narration' and 'play slideshow from beginning'

Peregrine Bush male stag beetle

Stag Beetles

For recording Stag Beetles in your garden and green space

Stag Beetle7 - Ben Andrew

Back from the Brink Conference Presentations

Species Recovery and Management - Ancient Trees and Woodland

News Archive

Event Archive

Ancients Context - fissured-wood_Neil Aldridge 1024

CANCELLED – The Deadwood Roadshow at the RHS Malvern Spring Show 2020

2 Day Event Starting on 9th May 2020, Worcestershire
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Ancient tree, stephanie skipp

Lanhydrock’s Ancients

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Project lead

Delivery partners

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