Ancient Tree Forum
July 2014 news
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Welcome to the latest issue of the Ancient Tree Forum's newsletter - we hope you enjoy it. If you are having difficulty viewing it or seeing pictures, try clicking on the link above to see it in your browser. 
Autumn field visit to Devon
On Thursday 9 October 2014, the Ancient Tree Forum (ATF) will be running a field meeting at Newnham Park (pictured), a hidden gem of Devon’s treescape close to Plymouth.

The park provides an ideal deadwood and beetle habitat, and hosts an excellent age structure of oaks, with large number of veterans and ancients with girths of between 4-6m. Other interesting trees to see include large old beech trees, some ancient ash and many old hawthorn and elder. The visit will explore how the High Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme will help to prolong the life of these trees.
Get details about the event or call 01935 873766 for more information. To request a booking form for the Plymouth field event, email

The ATF will be holding its board meeting on Friday 10 October close to Newnham Park. To find out about attending the open session of this meeting, call 01935 873766 or email
Meet the ATF this summer
The ATF has been out and about at a number of shows and events this year, including the Arb Show in Cirencester, and the Royal Cornwall Show in June. There are at least two more chances to meet the ATF and pick up free resources about managing ancient trees:
Stock Gaylard Oak Fair, Dorset, Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 August: A two-day event to mark the tenth anniversary of the fair, which takes place in a deer park (pictured) which was designated a SSSI in part for its wood pasture with over 100 ancient and veteran trees including the Crusader Oak. On the Saturday, the celebrated ecologist and countryside expert Oliver Rackham  will also be at the oak fair, talking about lichens.
Major Oak Woodland Festival, Nottinghamshire, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 September: Another event for all the family, as well as ancient tree enthusiasts, taking place in the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve. See details of the woodland festival.
Diary dates for 2015
ATF field meetings are one of the best ways to network with other ancient tree specialists and enthusiasts, and plans for next year's events are already underway.

Field meetings are generally held on the second Thursday in March, and the second Thursday in October, and in 2015 will take place on 12 March and 15 October. Details of locations will be published in forthcoming newsletters. Pictured above is the Spring 2014 field trip to Cwm Byddog, a Radnorshire Wildlife Trust reserve with a cluster of ancient oak pollards.

The summer forum 2015 will be held in East Anglia on 11 and 12 June (details to follow). 
Ancient and veteran tree advice and guidance 
This Spring, new guidance was issued by both the Forestry Commission and Natural England.

Guidance on measures to protect ancient, veteran, champion, historic or rare trees during forest operations has been produced by the Forestry Commission. In Trees of Special Interest and Forest Operations, key principles advocated include surveying and recording, and haloing of surrounding trees. The Ancient Tree Forum welcomes the guidance on these issues, but will continue to lobby for greater root protection areas in forestry working. 

In partnership with Natural England, the Forestry Commission has also produced standing advice on protected species, ancient woodland and veteran trees, which can be applied to any planning application. The advice recognises ancient and veteran trees for their role in local distinctiveness, their historical and cultural significance and their inspirational value, as well as their importance as habitat and as repositories of genetic information.
It acknowledges that ancient woodland and veteran trees are irreplaceable, but outlines measures that can be taken to compensate for their loss, such as planting, and moving felled veterans so that invertebrates and fungi can relocate to other trees.

In June, Friends of the Earth and FERN published case studies to raise their concerns about the risks of biodiversity offsetting. They see the practice as a massive threat to wildlife, which could allow unscrupulous developers to justify going ahead with damaging development. 
Securing the future for veteran trees across Europe
Veteran trees are under threat across Europe, and this international seminar, to be held in Sweden by the VETree Project, will bring together policy makers, arborists, cultural historians, ecologists and other stakeholders to explore ways to protect their future. 

The event takes place on 15 October at Trollhatten, Sweden, with funding and support from the European Commission. It will also provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the VETree project, including the production of a range of freely available training material in six languages to raise awareness and improve management of veteran trees. The project, which brings together five European partners including the Ancient Tree Forum, has also held training courses in Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Find out more about the event, which is free to attend, and book onto it through VETree. Pictured is a wooded meadow with lime pollards in Sweden.
in brief

Press coverage of 5,000 year old yew

A yew tree in Defynnog, Powys, attracted much media attention recently, when it was claimed to be the oldest tree in Europe, at 5,000 years old. The Daily Telegraph, the Times and the Daily Express all featured the story of this ancient survivor in its medieval Welsh churchyard home.

The Church in Wales has launched a campaign to help protect yew trees, after a survey found that it owns 334 yews of between 500 and 800 years old. The church has said it is keen to protect this heritage, and is promoting a publication by Caring for God's Acre on managing yews and other veteran trees in churchyards and burial grounds.

Arboricultural Association conference

The Arboricultural Association (AA)'s 2014 Amenity Conference has a theme of 'healthy trees and healthy people', and activities range from practical demonstrations, trade exhibits and speakers, to a field trip to Windsor Great Park. Find out details of the conference and get a discount of 15% on bookings made by Wednesday 13 August. 

Obama urged to conserve forests

Less than 10% of original 'old-growth' forest remains in the US, according to 75 American and Canadian scientists who have written to President Obama asking him to draw up plans for remaining forests distinguished by old trees. They are appealing for the creation of a new policy to encourage conservation rather than timber production (Associated Press).

Tree health and plant biosecurity

The government has welcomed a report on tree health and biosecurity from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, saying that 'it is essential to develop a strengthened approach to plant health through collaboration approach between government, the international community, industry, NGOs, landowners and the public.' See the response in full.

Parklands guide

An online guide to carrying out assessments of parkland sites has been created by the Herefordshire Parklands Project, following their evaluation of the ecological and historic condition of parks and gardens across the county. Download the guide from the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.

Course on aging and decay 

A Flora Locale introductory course for those involved in the management of ancient and veteran trees is being run by David Lonsdale, Helen Read and Caroline Davis of the ATF, on 5 November 2014. Fungi, decay and aging will be considered through the management of oak and beech at Burnham Beeches. 

European wood pasture book

Jill Butler (pictured), manager of the Ancient Tree Inventory, is one of the contributing authors in a new book edited by Tibor Hartel and Tobias Plieninger, European Wood-pastures in Transition. Published by Routledge, the book explores the social and ecological values, governing institutions, threats and conservation approaches relating to this threatened habitat. Jill Butler writes about mapping ancient and other trees of special interest.

Ash dieback and ancient trees

The potential ecological implications of ash dieback (Chalara) are considered in a new report from Natural England, which looks at how ash dieback could affect biodiversity, species conservation and woodland ecosystems.

An Ancient Tree Forum working group  has now produced a position statement on managing the threat to ancient and veteran ash trees from chalara ash dieback. Topics explored include controlling the importation of alien pests and pathogens, learning from overseas knowledge and expertise, arboriculture and tree management, and government and local authority responsibilities.

Rackham course in Herefordshire

Trees, woodland and the Herefordshire Landscape are the subject of this residential course to be run by Oliver Rackham from 8 to 11 September 2014. Field excursions to ancient woodlands and parklands are on offer as well as lectures, held in Much Marcle.
Scottish ATF takes root
At the end of the ATF's summer forum in Scotland, a group of Ancient Tree Forum supporters got together and decided to form a Scottish ATF group.

Arboriculturalist Matt Davies explains that the group will focus on field visits, to take place every two months starting in September 2014: 'After a wonderful couple of days at the Ancient Tree Forum's Highland Gathering, we have been inspired to explore ancient woodlands and wood pastures across Scotland.' 

For the first visit, to the ancient forest at Cadzow (see programme below), the group hopes to use some new technology to make a 3D model of the oaks so they can watch how the trees adapt over time. The group also plans to develop a newsletter, and a website with a discussion forum. 

The Scottish summer forum, pictured below, took place in the Perth and Aviemore areas, with visits to Scone Palace arboretum, and the Rothiemurchus Estate.
Programme for ATF Scotland, Autumn 2014 to Spring 2015

6 September 2014
Cadzow Oaks, Hamilton High Parks, South Lanarkshire
8 November 2014
Glen Affrick Ancient Woodland, Glen Affric
10 January 2015
The Capon Tree, Hunderlee by Jedburgh
7 March 2015
Argyll, Benmore and Kilmun
9 May 2015
Ancient crab apple and QE Forest Park, Gartmore, Stirlingshire

For confirmation and details of all visits, Matt Davies and Jess Windsor can be contacted on 0131 510 2013 or by email at
You can also now download the Scotland summer forum presentations that were given by speakers this June, on topics including Scotland's Atlantic Hazelwoods, the National Tree Collections of Scotland and the fungal ecology of pinewoods.
The Ancient Tree Forum website will soon be getting a facelift, but meanwhile, you can still use it to get information on ancient tree ecology and management, to find out about our events, and to see our gallery of photographs.

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Ancient Tree Forum, Grange West, Thornford, Dorset, DT9 6QG

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