An historic oak tree has been saved from being felled to ground level thanks to careful management which will keep it in the New Forest landscape for many more years.

The New Forest National Park Authority’s tree team provided arboricultural advice to the landowner to keep the remaining structure of the King Oak, which has been a prominent feature by the road at Moyles Court near Ringwood for several centuries. Also known as the Moyles Court Oak, the tree is thought to be more than 600 years old. After showing signs of decline for at least a century, it failed to come into leaf and was declared dead in 2023.

James Palmer, tree officer at the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA), said, ‘Being in such a busy public space, the tree needed further pruning to safely retain what we see today. While keeping the deadwood in place is favourable, we had to consider any potential damage or injury caused by falling branches.

‘The tree had been pruned several times over the years as the crown continued to die back, with each set of works removing a large quantity of deadwood and dead branch tips. We worked with the owner of the tree, a local private estate, encouraging them to retain the ancient oak, and provided management advice for other options rather than to just fell the tree to ground level as was initially proposed.’

Ancient trees, with their gnarls, holes and cracks, are an important part of a forest’s ecosystem, providing vital habitats for birds, bats, insects and lichens. They are also culturally important, adding to the character of an area, and often providing historical landmarks.

Work to retain the New Forest oak was carried out in December 2023 using specialist equipment and a crane. The stem and branches were pruned back, with cuts purposefully made to emulate storm damage. This more natural finish is better for wildlife including fungi, mosses, ferns and other specialist plants and animals that require these niche habitats to survive.

James added, ‘The New Forest has one of the highest concentrations of ancient trees in western Europe, and our role in the NPA is to protect the special and important trees that contribute to the character of the National.

For advice about pruning or caring for your mature trees, call Andrew on 01256 817369, 07771 883061 or email