Our urban areas were once not urban areas, but expanses of countryside that, over time, were built upon, sprawled outwards, and ate up even more countryside on the ever-growing periphery. For this reason, we can certainly come across mature and veteran trees, which signal previous landscape character and use. In the UK, where much of the landscape was cultivated for crops and converted for livestock, it is of little (but still nonetheless welcome) surprise when we spot the occasional lapsed pollard, or even an avenue of trees.
Earlier today, whilst out having a look at the same oak apple cynipid I posted about here, I paid a visit to a nearby street that is home to a very majestic lapsed oak pollard. Other old oaks are dotted about the landscape, and with a long line of very old oaks nearby (around 5 or 6), I suspect that this is, along with the others, a retained tree from an old hedgerow, field boundary, or pasture.
It’s funny, really. I do wonder sometimes whether people along that road realise what they’re looking at. The tree is, after all, a window into the past. Granted, it’s a tree that blocks out light and drops leaves, but more importantly than that it’s a relic of what used to be, and therefore has significant landscape value (ecologically and historically, in particular). Protecting such old trees, even in urban areas, is, at least in my opinion, critical.