Oak is absolutely vital to us – we construct many of our products, including our solid wood cabinets and oak worktops, out of this beautiful, hardy timber – which is why we are so keen to protect it. Action Oak, which has officially been launched at the Chelsea Flower Show, is a government campaign to safeguard the UK’s oak trees from pests, diseases and other threats.
The scheme aims to create a detailed picture of the health of the country’s oak tree population, which currently stands at 121 million. This will allow scientists to gain knowledge of how to preserve these trees for future generations.
Action Oak is fronted by Defra, landowners, charities and other environmental organisations, which include the National Trust, Forestry Commission and the royal Duchy of Cornwall estate. With a target of raising £15 million, the campaign is part of the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan and builds on the £37 million already invested.
Chelsea Flower Show is celebrating by featuring a stand dedicated to Action Oak, run by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). A 3D scan of Dame Judi Dench’s favourite oak tree will also be displayed. Elsewhere, famous pottery maker Emma Bridgewater has created a bespoke mug, with some of the profits going towards Action Oak research.
Lord Gardiner, Defra’s Biosecurity Minister, has said that protecting trees and plants is a priority for the current Government, which hopes to be able to leave the environment in a better state that it found it.
The Duchy of Cornwall’s head forester added that oak provides a number of benefits to the population and environment, and everything possible must be done to protect the trees for future generations.