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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.

Other activities completed during the two years of the project have been:

  • Setting up a VETree website to be the main vehicle for disseminating the project outputs
  • Devising a one-day course and testing it in two different countries
  • Devising a three-day course to provide delegates with all the material needed to run their own one-day courses and testing it in three different countries
  • Translation of the ATF book ‘Ancient and other veteran trees: Further guidance on management’ into the project partner languages
  • Providing an e-learning section on the website
  • Setting up a mentoring system to help future trainers with course specific issues
  • Organising an international seminar on the management of veteran trees in Sweden
  • Producing a leaflet to promote the VETree material

Vikki Bengtsson and Helen Read running a VETreecourse in veteran tree management

Throughout the project we have been fortunate to be able to use David Lonsdale (editor of our handbook, Ancient and other veteran trees: further guidance on management) as an external adviser.  This means that all the material has been checked for accuracy and gives us confidence that the information we are disseminating is as up to date and accurate as possible.  The project has officially ended but the results will continue to live on.  The website will be maintained in the future to be a source of information.  The ATF will run courses for the next few years and of course those people that have attended the three-day courses will be able to run their own courses and this will cascade the information out, hopefully reaching a wide range of people and spreading our message about the importance of valuing and properly managing veteran and other ancient trees.

The ATF will be running two three-day courses in 2015, on 12-14 May at Gilwell Park in Essex in the midst of Epping Forest and on 20th September to 1st October at Rydal Hall in the beautiful treescape of the Lake District.  Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis and we expect the courses to be popular, so anyone interested should book a place soon.

The ATF would also be very happy to run one-day courses if you would like us to organise one for your organisation or group.  The courses are intended to be interactive and fun to take part in.  For further details and prices contact training@ancienttreeforum.co.uk.

While the VETree project officially ended in December we are still putting the finishing touches to the final report for the EU and will have to wait a few months after this has been submitted for the last tranche of money. The project kept to budget and we hope will have been completed to the satisfaction of the EU which provided 75% of the funding.

We would like to thank all those that have supported the project over the last two years.  Many people have allowed us to use their photographs and drawings or answered queries and given us support.  We would especially like to thank the National Trust, Natural England and the Peter William George Smith Charitable Trust.

Posted by: Helen Read Helen Read works as a conservation officer at Burnham Beeches and was a founding member of the Ancient Tree Forum. She worked for two years on the European VETree project, and now runs training on managing ancient trees.

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