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15th May 2018

DEFRA: Environmental Principles and Governance after EU Exit

DEFRA have launched a consultation on the development of an Environmental Principles and Governance Bill. This new piece of legislation will mark the creation of a new, world-leading, statutory and independent environmental watchdog to hold government to account on our environmental ambitions and obligations once we have left the EU. This new body will work alongside a new policy statement setting out the environmental principles that will guide successful and sustainable policy-making, marking the beginning of a new era for our environment.

Give your view on our environmental principles

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8th May 2018

National Planning Policy Framework Consultation

The ATF has just submitted a formal consultation response on the proposed revised National Planning Policy Framework. The NPPF sets the policy context for all planning decisions so it is crucial to make sure it protects what is important to us. We have consistently requested that ancient and veteran trees are considered irreplaceable habitat and that ancient wood pasture is considered at the same level as ancient woodland, but what did the proposed new document say?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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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