Tuesday, August 25, 1998 Published at 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Ancient trees face extinction
This Welsh hillside is unique because of its trees
As many as ten per cent of the world's tree species face extinction, including some found only in the UK.
According to new research, three-quarters of all the threatened species have no legal protection.
The most threatened tree species in the UK are all inter-related.
Each tree is a clone of another.
Instead, they exist because of a natural creative process dating back to the ice age.
The trees known as whitebeams are very good at reproducing, but not so clever when it comes to moving around and colonising areas.
Because they are copies of their parents they cannot adapt to changing circumstances and locations.
One such species is the highly rare Ley's Whitebeam, which can only be found in the wild on one hillside in the Brecon Beacons, in Wales.
There are just 16 examples left of this tree, which was probably created shortly after the last ice age, when the Rowan tree and the Rock Whitebeam reproduced.
He said: "Leys Whitebeam has found a way of asexual reproduction. None of the pollen that it produces is good at all, but it's managed to find a way.
Nature is not the only reason though - man does not help either.
According to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre's Website showing the full list of trees, quarrying has destroyed some of the sites the species did manage to colonise nearby.
However the Wilmott's variety is causing greater concern. The new World List says there have been recent reports of the illegal collection and cutting down of trees in the gorge, despite attempts to protect the species.
Tony Robinson from English Nature, who works in the area, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the whitebeams are actually very good at forming new species.
But it is then that their problems start.
"The Whitebeams are very much trees of open space - rock faces and open slopes.
"Most people know Mountain Ash which is actually a member of the same group as the whitebeams and this grows in very open, mountainous spaces."
He also explained how they can be protected: "What we're trying to do here in the Avon gorge is retain the open spaces, the rocky open cliffs and slopes."
The UK's threatened trees
The areas featured here - the Brecon Beacons and the Avon Gorge near Bristol - are home to over half the 11 threatened species in the UK.
In fact the south west of Britain is where you can find eight of them.
Only two are in Scotland - on the remote island of Arran, and just one in northern England.