Oak trees once lined the countryside in the UK as well as yew trees and few other varieties. Back in the Middle Ages timber was incredibly important both for the construction of homes and of ships. The wood would have been sourced from the historical equivalent of Timber Merchants Southampton that can be found today. These merchants would have traded in imported and domestic timbers to a variety of people who were looking to use the wood for their construction needs.
It is thought that there are around 2,000 ancient yew trees still left in the UK and around 100 great oaks. These oak trees are over 800 years old and are subject to tree preservation orders that mean they are not to be built around and are to be protected from removal unless they suffer from devastating diseases that will see the trees harmed and ultimately killed and become dangerous.
The number of ancient trees in the UK is vastly larger than those that can be found on the continent, yet the UK has the smallest amount of forest and woodland left. It is thought that these ancient trees have become such a part of our folklore that those individuals looking to remove trees (before preservation orders were put in place) would have chosen younger trees over the more established ones that were hundreds of years old.
As we established new materials for construction we moved away from wood and instead started to clear our forest land for space for buildings. It is only over the last few years that we have started to replenish these woodlands and favour brown fields sites for the location of our buildings.