An international team of scientists known as the “Beech Boys” carried out research in Epping Forest due to concerns climate change is threatening woodland.

The group of eight, featuring world experts in fungi identification from Hungary, Slovenia, Denmark and Spain, are assessing the impact of rising temperatures on Beech trees.

Increased sunshine, combined with regular droughts and storms, are said to be threatening the ancient species, which is used as a marker for the consequences of climate change by experts.

The ‘Beech Boys’, who have an honorary female member, also assess how Nitrogen from cars and industry are threatening the health of the Beech trees and bio-diversity in the region.

Epping Forest has about 15,000 ancient Beech trees which have outgrown their normal lifespan - and whose decaying branches allow rare forms of microscopic mushrooms and mosses to flourish.

The forest is in the top 30 for fungi varieties in Europe - an “impressive feat considering its relatively small size”, according to Dr Jeremy Dagley, head of conservation at Epping Forest.

More than 80% of ancient Beech trees in the UK are found in Epping Forest.

They flourished due to primitive firewood techniques, which did not lead to the felling of the whole tree, and extensive conservation campaigns throughout the 19th Century.

The team have been invited to return in January to share its findings.

For more on this story, see this week's Guardian - out Tursday