England has more ancient native oak trees than the rest of Europe combined. How did that come about? The reasons are all historical, and nothing to do with climate or soil factors. This story goes back to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. They created Royal Forests, chases and deer parks, where only the nobility could hunt or keep deer and it was forbidden to cut the trees. This was, if you like, an early form of nature conservation, but for the sake of privileged hunting. Preservation of these oaks further continued through a combination of private ownership of thousands of parks, conservatism of the landowners, overseas timber availability and the absence of ruining wars on the English landscape; the majority of which had been confined to the continent.
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