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Policy work

Making legislation, policy and guidance work for ancient trees

We monitor legislation, policies, advice and actions by the UK government, devolved authorities, local government, non-governmental organisations and the European Union aiming to ensure that the value of ancient trees is fully recognised and that their protection and management in sympathetic and sustainable ways is promoted and supported.

One of the ways we achieve this aim is by responding  to consultations.  The Ancient Tree Forum (ATF) has a specialist group dedicated to this work and has been recognised as a constructive and authoritative contributor. Where we have common interests we work in partnership with other organisations, especially the Woodland Trust.

In recent years for example, our work in this area has included:

  •  Achieving recognition of the need for aged and veteran trees to be protected from development in the National Planning Policy Framework (England)
  • Achieving a substantive change to an important exception in the TPO Regulations, restricting the circumstances where removal or work to trees can be undertaken without consent to situations where there is an immediate risk of  serious harm
  • Contributing to the comprehensive revision of the British Standard on Tree Work (BS 3998:2010)as a member of the drafting panel, and significant changes to BS 5837:2005 and 2012 ‘Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction’ which gives recommendations in relation to development
  • Being a member of Welsh Government Group examining adequacy of protection for ancient trees and promoting reforms to legislation, policy and guidance
  • Being a member of a stakeholder group in Scotland developing a Register of Trees of National Special Interest
  • Contributing to a range of guidance on ancient and other veteran trees , pasture woodland, historic parks and gardens, and deadwood management produced by other organisations eg the Forestry Commission, Natural England and English Heritage
  • Commenting on selected planning applications when there has been significant risk to ancient trees such as the National Football Centre (Byrkley Park), Olympic equestrian event at Greenwich, and Belton House car park
  • Influencing national bodies which own ancient trees: For example, we have encouraged English Heritage to better recognise ancient trees as heritage assets , and in partnership with the Tree Council, have lobbied the Church of England to retain control of the management of churchyard trees. We have also worked with Forestry Commission England to produce management guidance for Forest Enterprise.  The National Trust now includes veteran trees in their Nature Conservation Policy and Nature Conservation Strategy, as outlined in Nature and the National Trust

ATF responses to consultations, new policy and significant planning applications include:

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