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16th April 2018

Veteran Tree Management Standards finalised


The Ancient Tree Forum is one of ten European partners in the VETcert, a project seeking to develop a certification scheme for those who work with veteran trees. In December the Ancient Tree Forum launched a public consultation to seek views on the draft standards and determine areas in need of improvement. With over 350 responses received, the public consultation was deemed a success.

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3rd April 2018

ATF/WT joint response to the consultation on revision to Planning Law in Wales

Below is ATF/WT joint response to the consultation on revision to Planning Law in Wales Chapter 15 of Planning Law In Wales – Works to Protected Trees . These proposals follow on from the recommendations of a ‘Task and finish Group’ set up to look especially at the protection of ancient, veteran and heritage trees on which both ATF and WT were represented and made strong representation to make key changes which have prevented the protection of veteran trees.

The consultation contains some very welcome proposed changes which we have been campaigning for including widening the definition of ‘amenity’ in grounds for making Tpo’s and amending exemptions for the need for consent so that the only exemption would be for ‘works urgently necessary to remove an immediate risk of serious harm….’. Other changes such as the proposal only to  be able to use the ‘area’ designation for a short period we have opposed as it has value for areas such as wood pasture.  But we have also asked that a specific designation be created for wood pasture and parkland which are types of ancient woodland but their distinct values, features and management needs differ from other woodland.

18-03-16-Planning-Law-in-Wales-FINAL-1-1.pdf (26 downloads)

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3rd April 2018

Woodland Trust Campaign – Better protection for ancients

by Brian Muelaner

The Woodland Trust have added a new Campaign which we at the Ancient Tree Forum would love you to get involved with:

Due to weak planning policy, England has been losing huge chunks of incredible woodland habitat to development which was simply not necessary in that location – like car parks, holiday lodges, golf courses and paintballing centres. So we’re thrilled that the Government is prepared to take action – and not before time!

New wording in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) could significantly increase protection for ancient woodland if the Government’s latest proposals are taken up. This could be a huge step forward. Biodiversity across the country will benefit. People will too, as it will help provide greater clarity for local planning authorities and encourage high quality, sustainable design. By heading off inappropriate applications and subsequent legal challenges and campaigns against them, it will also speed up decision-making and save resources. It’s a change that should make an immediate mark on the planning system, and a lasting difference for England’s last remaining ancient woodland.  We need your voice to make it happen.

Not everyone will agree. 

Some decision-makers prioritise short-term gain over the long-term benefits our ancient woods and trees provide. Worse, some developers and consultants actually exploit the loopholes in current policy, knowingly pushing forward plans that will permanently damage ancient woodland. Some of them could argue against the new wording. It’s crucial the Government sees public support for it.

Ancient trees have been left out in the cold.

Bizarrely the same proposals that will improve the fate of ancient woodland also downgrade protection for aged (‘ancient’) and veteran trees.

It’s wrong to suggest that aged and veteran trees are not irreplaceable, and wrong to give them a different level of protection to ancient woodland. It makes no sense to improve the fate of one irreplaceable woodland habitat while reducing protection for another. It will seriously impact on the way planning policy safeguards our most precious trees. If this is not addressed, England’s oldest and most impressive trees would actually have less protection from development than ancient woodland in future.

Have your say

Everyone makes mistakes. But if we all stand together we can put this one right. We need you to show support for the new wording for ancient woodland, and to reject the suggestion that ancient trees are not also irreplaceable. Otherwise our woodland heritage could truly become part of history.

A consultation on the proposals is now open. The Woodland Trust form will help you respond to the consultation question around ancient woodland and aged and veteran trees. All you need to do is add your details, and your views about why both habitats deserve equal protection from insensitive and inappropriate development. For further information and to complete this form Please Follow This Link.

Please stand up for ancient woods and special trees, and respond to the consultation before 10 May.  Thank you



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3rd March 2018

DEFRA: Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit

Last week saw the launch of ‘Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit’, the government’s consultation paper on the future of farming and the environment after the UK leaves the EU. This document heralds the most significant change for agriculture since the UK joined the EU. Read the document on GOV.UK.

The document sets out the overall direction of travel of future agricultural policy, while inviting views on how best to achieve it.

The ten-week consultation period will include a series of national and regional stakeholder events. It will be followed by an Agriculture Bill which will provide the necessary powers and authority to put the new policy into effect. The paper sets out a positive vision for the future with reforms designed to benefit farming, the environment and the taxpayer, building on the ambitions set out in the recent 25 Year Environment Plan and the Industrial Strategy.

ATF would like to encourage its supporters to respond to the online consultation Respond to Consultation Paper Here. The more people that highlight the multiple environmental and social benefits that Ancient, Veteran and Trees of Special Interest offer, the better ATF can get its messages across and improve protection of iconic, yet still vulnerable, organisms. The document and content are quite comprehensive: key headings are – ‘Public Money for Public Goods’; ‘Enhancing our Environment’; Protecting crop, tree, plant & bee health’; ‘Legislation’. Your support at such an important time could be significant.


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21st February 2018

ATF Wessex is looking for a new chair.


David Blake, ATF Wessex chair, and co-founder, has stepped down following relocating to Scotland. The Ancient Tree Forum would like to thank David for all of his great work in setting up and running a number of successful ATF Wessex events since it’s inception.

Do you have a passion for veteran trees in the Wessex area? If you would like to help with the running of ATF Wessex please get in touch.


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14th February 2018

Sustainable Soils Alliance Launch and Call to Action!


The event report for the October launch of the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA) is now available to read on the their website (see here).

It contains their eight-point Call to Action, an overview of the main priority areas for government and stakeholder intervention needed to reverse the crisis in our soils and restore them to health within one generation – from incentives and regulation to education, training, monitoring and evaluation.

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25th January 2018

Veteran Tree Management Standards available for public comment

VETcert, the project seeking to develop a certification scheme for those who work with veteran trees, reaches another milestone. In November, veteran tree enthusiasts from across Europe descended on Gilwell Park, London for a five day workshop aiming to fine tune the veteran tree management standards ready for public consumption.

The Ancient Tree Forum are responsible for producing the veteran tree management standards for the project. To guide the production of these standards a questionnaire was circulated in early 2017. A strong response to the questionnaire was received, with 288 people taking the time to complete the survey.

The focus of the workshop was to discuss and revise the standards ready for a public consultation. ATF chair, Russell Miller, was on hand to chair the meeting and steer us through the five days of discussions which included topics such as existing veteran tree standards, good and bad management practice, prerequisites of entry to VETcert, what level the standards should be aimed at, and the content of the standards.

Whilst working on improving the standards, there were opportunites for partners to discuss the finer points of veteran tree management and share knowledge. Frequent field trips were made to neighbouring Epping Forest to facilitate discussion and confirm understanding. The meeting was held in English, however there were six nationalities present, all of whom did an amazing job discussing a detailed standard in a second, or even third, language; I think it is fair to say that our European partners put the English representatives to shame with their language skills.

At the end of the five days we were left with a set of draft standards ready for public comment. There are two standards, one for practicing professionals (tree surgeon/forester) and one for consultants. Each standard is split into 11 units covering the wide range of skills and knowledge required for veteran tree management:

  • Veteran trees; recognition and values.
  • Growth, development and dysfunction of trees.
  • Roots of veteran trees and the soil environment.
  • Veteran trees as ecosystems.
  • Veteran trees and people.
  • Veteran tree survey and assessment.
  • Legislation in relation to veteran trees.
  • Veteran tree risk management.
  • Veteran trees, urban planning and infrastructure.
  • Personal skills.
  • Veteran tree management.

These standards can be found on the VETcert website (http://www.vetcert.eu/standards-certificates), along with a SurveyMonkey questionnaire for providing feedback. The consultation is open to anyone with experience of managing veteran trees and will run until 31st January 2018.

A big thank is due to our VETcert partners, as well as all of those who have expressed an interest in the project or taken the time to provide their input.

Further updates will be provided until the project comes to a close in August 2019. If you have any queries about VETcert please Contact Us Here

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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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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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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 Please Contact Us Here.

Complete the survey here

VETcert logo Mar 2017

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