Old trees hold so much history – they’ve witnessed so many seasons, survived changes in the world and adapted to shifting urban landscapes.

They’re synonymous with humankind.

In certain cultures, old trees contain symbolic or religious meaning that can be traced back hundreds of generations. Since the dawn of time, they’ve been providing ecological benefits that protect people and animals alike.

Despite all of this, it’s unfortunate that these wonderous old trees aren’t often prioritised when designing conservation policies and management guidelines for towns and cities in today’s world.

So, to understand how valuable old trees are, here is a fascinating look into a 250-year-old Oak near Toronto, Canada.

Toronto’s 250-year-old red Oak

A 250-year-old red Oak stands tall in the Humbermede community, northwest of Toronto. It is recognised as a heritage tree under Forests Ontario’s Heritage Tree Program.

The city intends to purchase the private property where it is located and convert the site into a parkette centred around the mighty living wonder, with the intention of safeguarding this ancient tree and preserving it for another 200 years

A fundraising campaign was organised to collect the $430,000 needed to make the sale official on December 12, 2020, which was based on the conditional deal between the current owner and the city.

As of November 3, 2020, $245,815 has been pledged to the campaign and more is expected over the next few weeks.

You might be wondering why the local community has put together such a large campaign to conserve this magnificent old tree.

Well, the 250-year-old red Oak was deemed worthy for the following reasons:

  • The tree is part of their history they want to pass on to the next generation. The people of Humbermede believe that the tree is a living representation of their cultural and social values. So, they want their children to experience its wonders and care for it as much as they did.
  • It offers sustainable benefits to the local environment. In 2020, it was calculated by the Association for Canadian Education Resources that this 250-year-old red Oak stores two and a half tons of carbon dioxide per year. Just imagine how much of an impact that has in improving the city’s air quality by mitigating pollution!
  • The tree serves a reminder to take care of our urban forest. With a trunk circumference of over 5 metres and branches spanning at phenomenal 24 metres, the 250-year-old red Oak is now at full maturity. It serves as a living reminder that trees can thrive for a long time and offer significant benefits, so long as people strive to nurture and support their growth.

What can we learn from this 250-year-old Oaktree?

At this age, it has a lot of wise stories to share.

According to a study from The University of Hamburg, trees store more carbon as they get older. The research also reported that 70% of all the carbon stored in trees is accumulated in the last half of their lives.

It just proves that mature trees are more capable of making cities greener, healthier and more sustainable. If we allow them to flourish over time, our urban communities will be able to gain more ecological, social and economic benefits that even future generations will be able to enjoy.

How do we give trees found in our cities the best opportunity to thrive?

Using products like soil vault systems, tree pit irrigation, tree guards and other root management solutions can go a long way in making sure these city trees will mature healthily within an urban landscape. Do you know of any historic trees that are struggling to survive within a hostile growing environment?

Retrofitting a soil vault system could be the answer! Read our blog article on how to retrofit soil cells to an old and established tree here.

Photo credit: https://phys.org/ , https://www.thestar.com/