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9th August 2017

ATF Wessex: Managing visitors and veterans in Wiltshire

Jim Mullholland

Jim Mullholland joined the ATF Wessex group for a field event in June to Southwick Country Park, a site much-visited by local people, to see how the veteran trees are managed.

Nestled on the outskirts of Trowbridge, Southwick Country Park is an impressive veteran tree site which can easily be overlooked. Along the former agricultural hedgerows the veteran oak pollards are becoming lost in forests of newly planted trees.

The country park was purchased by Wiltshire Council in 1989 with a view to developing a golf course. At that time strips of trees were planted to frame fairways and develop a number of holes within the loose agricultural field framework. When plans for a golf course didn’t continue, the land was instead used to create a country park for local residents.

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Posted by: Jim Mullholland Jim is the Ancient Tree Forum's Training and Technical Officer. He has a background in ecology and arboriculture, and has worked as a tree officer. He has a particular interest in veteran trees and bats.

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8th August 2017

Raising standards in arboriculture – the development of VETcert

Planning the VETcert project at the Tortworth Chestnut

The project seeking to develop a certification scheme for those who work with veteran trees is well underway. In June the VETcert partners met in Gloucestershire at an event hosted by the Arboricultural Association.

On the Sunday in advance of the meeting, the partners were treated to a visit to Crickley Hill led by Simon Cox, Technical Officer for the Arboricultural Association. This was an opportunity for partners to catch up, as well as look at some beech pollards and ancient oaks.

Monday morning started with a trip to the Tortworth Chestnut, led by Jim Mullholland, Training and Technical officer for the Ancient Tree Forum. Jim, who lives around the corner from the tree, explained its history and showed some of the vast collection of lithographs, paintings and sketches the Tortworth Estate company have amassed.

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Training the trainers

Jim Mullholland

Jim Mullholland, ATF’s Training and Technical Officer, writes about this year’s three-day veteran tree training course which took place after the summer conference at Epping Forest.

For this year’s course, we took advantage of the superb setting of Gilwell Park. Bookings were up and unfortunately we had to turn some people away due to being fully booked. We were fortunate to be joined by a number of international delegates, who brought a different perspective on things.

The three-day course was developed as part of the VETree project and has been designed to give the delegates the information, skills and experience to enable them to deliver a one-day course on valuing and managing veteran trees.

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Posted by: Jim Mullholland Jim is the Ancient Tree Forum's Training and Technical Officer. He has a background in ecology and arboriculture, and has worked as a tree officer. He has a particular interest in veteran trees and bats.

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7th August 2017

City of London signs ATF Concordat

Chris Knapman

Philip Woodhouse of the City of London Corporation, and Russell Miller of the ATF, sign the ATF’s Concordat, July 2017

The City of London Corporation and the Ancient Tree Forum have committed to working together to protect the UK’s ancient and other veteran trees and to safeguard future generations of old and precious trees, by jointly signing the ATF’s Concordat.

The document was signed and sealed at Epping Forest, during the ATF’s July conference, by, Philip Woodhouse, Chairman of the Epping Forest Management Committee, and Russell Miller, the ATF’s Chair (both pictured).

‘The conference was a great success and it was an excellent opportunity to discuss the health and well-being of these hugely important trees’ said Philip Woodhouse. ‘The timing of the signing of the declaration couldn’t be better because the City of London Corporation is celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Forest Charter this year. This Charter protected ancient rights of ordinary citizens in the Forest, which helped to maintain the ancient trees for centuries and eventually ensured the survival of the Forest in the 19th Century, when the City of London stepped in to save it for the nation.’

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Epping Forest: Insights and inspiration

Hannah Solloway

Epping Forest

Tim Hill, ATF trustee, writes about the charity’s 2017 conference, held at Epping Forest in July, and attended by around 240 people each day.

This year’s conference was a refreshing blend of talks, walks, insights and inspiration.  As Jeremy Dagley, the event organiser and Head of Conservation at Epping Forest succinctly put it: “There’s a real buzz of excitement in the room”.

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Posted by: Tim Hill Tim Hill is a trustee of the ATF. He recently retired as Forestry adviser to the Thoresby Estate, Nottinghamshire. where he managed 800 hectares of ancient woodland (230 of which is currently managed as wood pasture) in the Sherwood Forest.

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3rd August 2017

Improving protection for veteran trees in government policy

Jill Butler

Aldermaston Park, where ATF campaigned to save ancient oaks from a proposed housing development

Caroline Davis, ATF’s Vice Chair, writes about her work earlier this year, to produce a response to the Government’s Housing White Paper, in order to improve protection for aged and veteran trees in government policy.

Working in close partnership with the Woodland Trust, we set out a full response to the Housing White Paper, ‘Fixing our broken housing market’. In particular, we jointly proposed an amendment to a key section (paragraph 118), in order to clarify the need to protect aged and veteran trees and ancient woodland as irreplaceable habitat. We put forward the following wording, and with strong behind the scenes lobbying by the Woodland Trust, we hope this will be accepted: ‘Loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, resulting from development proposals should be wholly exceptional

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Posted by: Caroline Davis Caroline is a Co Vice Chair of the Ancient Tree Forum and one of its founding members. She has previously worked as arboricultural advisor to the government, and a tree officer in local government, and now leads the ATF’s Policy and Consultation working group.

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4th April 2017

A day in Dallington

Hannah Solloway

Coppice area at Dallington Forest

‘Woodlands are under-valued for their veteran trees’ said Jamie Simpson, in his introductory talk about the area of the Dallington Forest he manages. Forge Wood is made up of a mosaic of gill woodland (identified by its geological features of ridges and valleys with streams draining into them) with ancient and other veteran beech trees, ancient coppice and areas likely to be remnants of wood pasture.

Dallington, in East Sussex, is one of the most remote large forests in the South East of England, and it is fragmented through multiple ownership. Jamie (pictured below) has managed Forge Wood for 10 years, and had invited the ATF to see his conservation work. Management over the years has included removal of rhododendron, pollarding of some of the younger trees, management of veteran trees, maintenance of rides, and re-establishment of coppicing.

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Posted by: Hannah Solloway Hannah is the Development Officer for the Ancient Tree Forum.

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30th March 2017

VETcert needs your input

 by Jezz

Veteran tree work at Burnham Beeches

VETcert, the project to develop a Europe-wide accreditation scheme for those working on veteran trees, officially started in December with partners from seven European countries meeting in Brussels. As part of the standard setting stage of the project, the ATF is now seeking the views of stakeholders within the UK on the minimum requirements for those working on veteran trees.

The ATF is a main partner in the project and is leading on the standard setting section of the project in recognition of the wealth of experience and knowledge within the organisation. Since December, work has also begun on researching existing accreditation schemes in other sectors, to see what can be learnt from them.

A short questionnaire has been produced which includes questions on specific issues relating to veteran trees in the UK as well as questions on the minimum knowledge and skills required for those working at both a practicing level (tree surgeons) and at a consulting level.

We would welcome the input of the ATF’s supporters who are asked to complete the online survey by Friday 21 April. For more information about the VETcert project, contact Jim Mullholland, Training and Technical Officer, at training@ancienttreeforum.co.uk.

Complete the survey here

VETcert logo Mar 2017

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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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Posted by: Brian Muelaner Brian is a trustee and former Chair of the Ancient Tree Forum. He worked for the National Trust for 27 years until 2014, most recently as their Ancient Tree adviser, and has extensive knowledge of wood pasture and parkland sites across England.

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29th March 2017

First field event for ATF Wessex

David Blake

Kingston Lacy park

David Blake, who leads the new ATF Wessex group, joined local National Trust staff at the end of February for the group’s first field meeting, to Kingston Lacy and Holt Forest in Dorset

Kingston Lacy is one of the National Trust’s finest properties in the Wessex region and the regional and property staff had done us proud. After a brief welcome from myself we settled in the Mess Room to hear from Simon Ford (Wildlife and Countryside Consultancy Manager for the National Trust) about how ancient and veteran trees are managed within the Trust’s estate.

Integrating the specialist management of such important heritage assets (often, some of the trees around the great houses in the Trust’s portfolio are much older than the houses themselves) provides Simon and his colleagues with some real challenges. Many of these are around communicating the importance of the trees to colleagues and being able to meet the modern requirements for access, modern agricultural activity and public events in landscapes that were not designed with any of those things in mind.

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Posted by: David Blake David Blake is Project Development Officer for the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and leads the ATF's Wessex group.

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