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22nd November 2017

Recording the ashscape

Hannah Solloway

Hollow ash

This veteran ash tree, with its beautiful heart-shaped form created by cambium curving round the decayed hollow, can be found towards the bottom of a chalk downland valley in North Dorset.

With its hollow trunk, deadwood in the crown, rot holes and cavities, the tree has many veteran features and is hugely valuable for its biodiversity as well as its aesthetic appeal. It supports many species of lichens and bryophytes, some of which are almost entirely dependent on veteran ash trees, due to the unique characteristics of the bark. These include the (UK) priority lichen Bacidia incompta, and the nationally scarce Bacidia delicata and Caloplaca ulcerosa. The white-rot wood decay in the trunk provides decaying woody habitat for a range of saproxylic invertebrate species.

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19th October 2017

Rewilding and the Knepp conference lectures

Knepp Castle Estate

Grazing cattle at Knepp

Jamie Simpson, who carries out arboricultural work at the Knepp Estate in Sussex, writes about the rewilding of Knepp, the influence of Frans Vera, and the Vera Conference at Knepp: ‘Freeing the Landscape: Grazing animals as ecosystems engineers’ (see link to presentations below).

The introduction of free-roaming grazing herbivores, extinct animals and a return to less interventional land management is commonly known now as ‘Rewilding’. It has been a hot topic amongst nature conservationists, land managers and farmers since the publication of Grazing Ecology and Forest History by Frans Vera in 2000 and more recently, promotion in mainstream journalism by George Monbiot.

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30th March 2017

Working with the National Trust to protect our ancient trees

Hannah Solloway

ATF field visit with the National Trust at Borrowdale, Cumbria

Brian Muelaner, trustee of the Ancient Tree Forum and former Ancient Tree Adviser for the National Trust, writes about how the two organisations are now working together

As a tiny charity with huge ambitions the ATF has formed a number of partnerships with other organisations to help achieve its aims to:

  • Champion the conservation and management of ancient trees and their wildlife, heritage and cultural values
  • Develop and share knowledge and experience of ancient trees and awaken people to their beauty and value
  • Prevent avoidable loss of existing ancient trees
  • Secure and expand future generations of ancient trees

For over 20 years the ATF has worked with various partners in a number of ways, for example through producing joint publications with English Nature (now Natural England), and campaigning with the Woodland Trust. More recently we have sought links with like-minded organisations through the signing of Concordats in order to commit to a shared vision for ancient trees.

One of the most significant signatories has been the National Trust, due to their vast ownership of ancient and other veteran trees, their enormous membership and influence.  In June 2015 the trust’s Director General, Dame Helen Ghosh, and I, then Chair of the ATF, signed and sealed the Concordat beneath the Ankerwycke yew, the very site on which it is believed the Magna Carta was sealed.

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16th March 2017

Managing standing dead veteran trees

David Humphries

Hampstead Heath tree in vascular decline following significant storm damage in the 1990’s.

David Humphries, Trees Management Officer for the City of London, writes about veteran trees retained as standing dead wood at Hampstead Heath

Although not an ancient tree the veteran boundary oak (Quercus robur) above has now been retained at an acceptable level of risk, as a standing dead structure for its niche habitat and biodiversity value. It was in vascular decline for a number of years following significant storm damage in the 1990s, and it eventually succumbed naturally due to loss of canopy and to a poor partial rooting environment. The oak sits next to a well-used path in an urban open space with regular footfall within a couple of meters.

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15th November 2016

El Sueño de la Razón

By Tim Hill

Cattle grid at Thoresby

Tim Hill returns to Thoresby, part of the former Royal Forest of Sherwood, to see the oak featured in his last two blogs Mal sueño and the veteran oak and Sueño en la floresta.

Welcome back to my bosky corner. We parted last time to the mellifluous strains of Agustín Barrios dreaming in the forest.  Dreams, reality and the distance between the two is an apt description of the challenges facing the Estate in reintroducing wood pasture and recruiting fresh cohorts of trees – to become the veterans of tomorrow –  within a grazing regime.

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12th May 2016

Sueño en la floresta

Tim Hill returns to Thoresby, part of the former Royal Forest of Sherwood, to see the oak featured in his last blog Mal sueño and the veteran oak.

What a difference a week makes! Seven days ago the buds on our grizzled veteran hadn’t yet opened, whilst today….

 

Combined Mal Sueno pics

 

Quite a transformation from the winter image.  The haloing around the oak has allowed more light into the canopy.  It is however still sheltered from strong gusts funnelled down the rides and shaded from too much direct sunlight that might contribute to drying-out of the trunk.

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27th January 2016

Towards a wood pasture and parkland inventory

 by Brian Muelaner

ancient ash in wood pasture at Kedleston Park

An inventory of valuable wood pastures and parkland would help us to conserve and restore this nationally important habitat and help us plan them into resilient landscapes.

As a step towards building an inventory, Natural England in partnership with the Woodland Trust and the Ancient Tree Forum have put together three datasets. The dataset commissioned by Natural England was a desktop compilation of historic parkland plus an analysis of aerial photographs available on Magic. The second is the Ancient Tree Inventory held by the Woodland Trust and now comprises over 150,000 ancient, veteran and notable trees. Finally a digitised layer of the sites known about by Ancient Tree Forum specialists.

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20th March 2015

Good practice in veteran tree management rolls out across Europe

By Helen Read

‘ Valuing and managing veteran trees’ training the trainer course, Epping, September 2014

The two year VETree project finished at the end of December 2014, after two very busy and successful years which have resulted in a range of training resources.

The main focus of the project was to devise and test training materials relating to valuing and managing veteran trees for use in the partner countries which were UK, Belgium, Sweden, Spain and Romania.

Amongst the achievements of the project are a set of nine videos on subjects important to the management of veteran trees, including two lectures from David Lonsdale. Topics include the management of pollards, halo clearance for veteran trees and techniques for crown reducing a veteran tree.

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