Church in Wales campaign to protect yew trees
A campaign to help protect yew trees up to 5,000 years old has been launched by the Church in Wales.
It will offer advice on how to manage and make the most of the trees, which are often found in churchyards.
A survey has found that the Church in Wales owns 334 yews which are between 500 and 800 years old.
The church said it was keen to protect such a precious heritage for future generations.
Information about where to get the best advice for managing yew trees will be sent to parishes and communities which have some of the oldest in Wales.
End Quote Alex Glanville Church in Wales
We think it's time we celebrated these amazing trees and the communities that have cared for them down the centuries”
The Church in Wales said the work was supported by the churchyard conservation organisation, Caring for God's Acre and the Ancient Yew Group.
Alex Glanville, head of property services at the Church in Wales, said: "It is incredible to think that some of the yew trees in our churchyards are older than our faith itself - dating back thousands of years.
"On example at Defynnog in Powys is thought to have been planted 5,000 years ago and could be a contender for the oldest tree in Europe.
"We think it's time we celebrated these amazing trees and the communities that have cared for them down the centuries."
He said some ancient yews would have marked venerated places in pre-history, many of which became Christian sites later on.
They survived in Wales better than anywhere else largely because of the wet climate and lower light levels and because Celtic traditions encouraged the planting of yews, he added.
The Church in Wales owns, within 203 of its churchyards, 101 ancient yew trees which are more than 800 years old and 233 yews over 500 years old.