Forestry Focus

Heritage Trees

A heritage tree may be defined as a tree of biological, cultural, ecological or historical interest because of its age, size or condition. Heritage trees are an integral and valuable part of our natural and cultural landscape and are often among the oldest living objects in the country. They are found in our native woodlands, historic parklands and estates, in association with human settlement, along roadsides and in hedgerows, agricultural fields and occasionally as isolated specimens in the middle of housing estates or development sites.

Heritage trees are often all that remains as a legacy of some of our most historic landscapes. They survive today because of their historical connections, aesthetic appeal, because of their ecological or botanical significance or simply because they are hidden away.

There are many types of trees that qualify as a heritage trees for example: rag trees; hanging trees; military trees (planted in military formation to commemorate battles); those of exceptional girth, height or age; any associated with historical events, people or structures; and those which are important to a community.

Many heritage trees are endangered for various reasons such as neglect, lack of knowledge on preservation,  threats from urban development, intensive agriculture etc. Existing legislative measures aimed at conserving trees of heritage interest is currently inadequate and in order to strengthen the case for improvement a database of heritage trees has been compiled by Tree Council of Ireland in association with Crann and the Irish Tree Society to record the extent of the resource that needs to be protected.

The database contains a description of the trees, their location, dimensions, heritage value, photographs and comments. It can be accessed at:

The Tree Register of Ireland