Saving England's most threatened species from extinction

Ancients of the Future

Protecting England’s treescapes

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 will bring back the “ancients of the future”

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

We will call on expert and citizen science, and trial new survey and management techniques. Crucially, we will work 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 want to change public attitudes to ancient trees and decay-loving creatures and fungi, and we’ll offer close-up encounters with some of our most threatened and elusive ancient tree wildlife.

What we’re aiming for

By the end of the project, we aim to have increased the resilience of ancient trees and landscapes in target areas, protecting them from existing and emerging threats. In particular, we want to ensure there will be that vital continuity of habitat far into the future. Our knowledge on threatened species and how to conserve them will be increased and measures put in place to secure their future.

How to get involved

Can you help us by getting involved with our citizen science and outreach events for the ancients of the future? Find out more at our talks, walks and events.

You can get the latest news, and find out about upcoming events, by following the links below.

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
A young oak tree viewed from within the cavity of an ancient oak tree, Moccas Park National Nature Reserve, Herefordshire, England
Violet Click Beetle - Limoniscus violaceus (c) Roger Key
Peregrine Bush male stag beetle
IP02_M_Coral_ tooth_Hericium_coralloides_copyright_Martin_Hlauka

Project contact

Jamie Robins

Project Manager






Best Practice Approach to Cross Taxa Management Workshop

Note – presentations can be viewed as a PowerPoint slide show with narration by selecting ‘play narration’ and ‘play slideshow from beginning’

Back from the Brink & Ancients of the Future

Presented by Hayley Herridge, Ancients of the Future Outreach Officer, Buglife

The Aging Process of Trees & The Benefits of Fungi

Presented by Paul Rutter, Ancients of the Future Project Officer, Plantlife

Lichens of Ancient Trees

Presented by Dave Lamacraft, Lower Plants Advisor, Plantlife

Saproxylic Invertebrates: Ecology & Management of Wood-decay Habitats

Presented by Liam Olds, Conservation Officer, Buglife

Bats: Ecology and Habitat Requirements

Presented by Sonia Reveley, Woodland Advisor, Bat Conservation Trust

Case Study: Savernake Forest, Wiltshire

Presented by Presented by Paul Rutter, Ancients of the Future Project Officer, Plantlife

Case Study: Moccas Park, Herefordshire

Presented by Presented by Dave Lamacraft, Lower Plants Advisor, Plantlife



For Recording Stag Beetles in Your Garden and Green Space

Back from the Brink Innovations 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
Read More

Bringing them Back From The Brink

We are working with some of the most endangered species in England. With your help we can do even more to save them.

Project lead

Delivery partners

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