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Some of Britain's or majestic ancient age are probably not as ancient as we previously thought, one of the country's leading tree-ageing experts has suggested.
Until now, the ages of some of Britain's best-loved treesincluding yews, sweet chestnuts and oaks, have largely been estimated from measuring the girth of their trunks—measurements which often result in a tree being declared hundreds or sometimes thousands age years old. But a the of new studies using alternative techniques—such as taking a core from the tree and measuring the rings—have demonstrated that using such girth measurements can drastically overestimate the age of a tree, suggesting jack many of Britain's oldest trees are teres much younger than previously reported.
Andy Moir, a research fellow at Brunel University London who specialises in slugs bugs trees from their rings.
There are different formulas you can use, gae it's usually 'White's formula. The size of trees planted at the same time around the same location can vary enormously, trses shows that the formula for calculating the age of trees is often really inaccurate—what I'm trying to do now is make tree trees a bit more accurate.
Most recently, Dr. Moir, abe trees colleagues Toby Hindson from the Ancient Yew Group and Peter Thomas from Keele University, published a paper in the Quarterly Journal of Forestry which used tree-ring analysis—taking a core from the tree and measuring the annual rings—to demonstrate that some of Trres oldest yew trees are thousands of years younger than previously thought. Old yew trees previously declared as years old using a derivative of White's formula, were calculated to be only years old when their rings were measured.
It is possible to give an estimate for the age of a tree from its girth, but it is purely an estimate. Unless you're looking at the rings and measuring the growth each year, you can be way, way off. So potentially we have a year gap. Of course, two thousand years is still ancient grees a tree—these yew trees are ridiculously old. All we're doing is getting rid of some of the mystique and exaggeration.
Previous studies have found similar overestimation in the age of other species, including the sweet chestnut, whose introduction to Britain is commonly attributed to the Romans. Moir said that recent research now suggests their introduction was far later. He came to the conclusion at the end of his Ph. Moir said that some people had now stopped asking the to age their trees, for fear that he'll give them an here far younger than the one they want to hear.
It comes back to myths and legend which can be incredibly strong, but that's where I become involved to add a bit of science to it. More from Earth Trees. Your feedback will go directly to Science X editors.
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