Our goal is the conservation of the remaining woodland pastures and ancient trees of the Bluegrass and Nashville Basin. The old trees are dying from age, lightning, mower damage and development. The trees are not reproducing in sufficient numbers to maintain their populations. Our goal is to reduce the rate of death of old trees, and increase the rate of recruitment of young trees.

The woodland pastures of North America and their ancient trees are lacking in a large body of fundamental science. In Europe, there has been considerable research on this ecosystem, and stacks of peer-reviewed literature. In the US, scientists have largely ignored this rarest of ecosystems. Lacking a body of research, we depend on the European experience for much of our background science. That has to change.

Venerable Trees, Inc., is focusing our efforts on a few high-priority geographic areas and four high-priority tasks:

  • Woodford County with the greatest extent of original woodland pastures;
  • Bourbon County with several areas where woodland pasture species are regenerating;
  • Jessamine County with woodland pastures threatened by development;
  • See more about each county on our Counties page. We hope to add projects in the Jefferson County area and in the Nashville are soon;

High-priority tasks:

  • Assessing woodland pastures. The first step in managing a natural resource is to evaluate it. We will begin mapping and measuring trees in woodland pastures.  We will train a cadre of volunteers and interns to locate trees with GPS, measure them and assess their condition.  We will begin in four critical regions of the Bluegrass that have extensive woodland pastures and interested landowners.
  • Developing management plans. We will work with landowners to develop management plans for their woodland pastures that will extend the lifespan.
  • Solving the reproduction problem.  Venerable trees are not reproducing in woodland pastures. Without our intervention, they will disappear in a few years.  We will develop two methods for growing young trees: 1) allowing natural regeneration to take place within protected areas such as tree pens, and 2) establishing small cooperative nurseries and growing trees from locally collected seed.
  • Preserving ancient trees in urban landscapes. We will work with volunteers to map, identify and assess ancient trees on public urban land, and work with homeowners to do the same for trees on private property. We will then develop management plans and carry them out, including protecting park trees from lightnin

Blue ash in Castlewood Park.

Blue ash in Castlewood Park.