This research presents two aspects of the the state of recognition and protection for heritage trees worldwide: examples of regulatory efforts in specific countries, and the state of the research on heritage trees, their identification, protection and management.
Heritage trees provide a sense of permanency and sense of place, an important gene pool, and also a critical repository of potential pharmaceutical resources. As the “elder statesmen” of a species, heritage or “champion” trees are a living reminder of how large and old a particular species may become. The oldest of the species also contain a living “library” of climate changes that have taken place over hundreds and in some cases thousands of years.
During the past two decades, research has been developed into the use, importance, and value of heritage trees in an effort to support their protection and maintenance around the world. In addition, there are various registries that focus on their status as endangered, as valuable icons in the landscape, or as the largest of their species as a proxy for age. Most are just honorary designations, with legal protection delegated to local laws or as a part of other heritage legislation.