Photo by lbarrosphoto/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by lbarrosphoto/iStock / Getty Images

Ancient and Veteran Tree Management

A veteran tree can be defined as: ‘a tree that is of interest biologically, culturally or aesthetically because of its age, size or condition’. Some trees are instantly recognisable as veterans but many are less obvious.’ (www.naturalengland.org.uk)

Ancient and veteran trees take many forms and are found in a variety of locations such as woodland, as old hedges, parkland, church grounds and even urban areas. Being part of our heritage they have cultural and historical significance, providing an insight into former practices and values, they are monuments that have existed in one location for many hundreds of years, something tangible, something we can touch, an entity that after so long is still alive.

Britain is the ancient tree stronghold of Northern Europe and past management such as pollarding and coppicing, has resulted in a complex process of continuous regeneration and decay. This has created a unique habitat which supports specialised fauna and fungi that can only thrive in continual association over an extended period making them exclusive to veteran trees, and the trees of international conservation importance, though few have statutory protection.

Veteran trees are sensitive to change and they, the organisms they support and the surrounding area should be managed for consistency and optimal conditions. Unfortunately modern requirements have removed the economic importance veteran trees once held for supplies of fodder and woodfuel, making them susceptible to disturbance and removal through threats such as development and agriculture. Neglect is also a major concern, trees that are not managed are not rejuvenated and revert to form and shorter lifespan.

 Nurture Green’s combined team has worked with many veteran tree owners over the years to help establish tree management designed to extend lifespan, safely retain and stabilise the trees and their immediate environment, whilst optimising conditions. Many management plans have included phased works which bring the trees back into a state of cyclical rejuvenation, or encourage vetenarisation. Jason Trewinnard in the capacity of Tree Officer had advised on and overseen many such plans to retain veteran trees in the West Berks District.