ATF  Newsletter - September 2020

An update and an invitation from the CEO

Help us shape the ATF’s future – 175 of you responded to our recent survey about what ancient and other veteran trees need over the next five years - showing us how many of you care and are knowledgeable about ancient and other veteran trees.

You’re now invited to shape the role that the ATF can play in their future by coming to an online workshop on one of the following mornings: 12th, 13th or 14th October – between 10am & 1pm.  At this workshop, we will build upon the findings from the recent survey, and ask you to input to the opportunities for the ATF to take in the future.

We’re looking to involve around 30 people in total, so if you can attend and are interested, please email by Tuesday 6th October with the dates you’re available and also – we particularly welcome you if you’re from an ATF local group, a previous member of an ATF working group, one of the ATF’s partner organisations, or if you personally have a diverse background of any kind (see our diversity policy here). Please state in your email the date(s) you are available and if you have one of these roles/backgrounds.


Republishing the Ancient Tree Guides – We’re working with the Woodland Trust and refreshing and republishing our jointly owned Ancient Tree Guides – involving our very own expert volunteers and also a number of partner organisations from the Arboricultural Association, the National Trust, the Gardens Trust, Lowther Estates, the National Farmers Union and the Soil Association.

Goodbye, and thank you to Jim Mulholland – After four years of working at the Ancient Tree Forum, Jim Mullholland left the post of training and technical officer at the end of August to pursue personal projects of a campervan variety. Jim helped deliver projects such as VETcert and the City of London self-guided trails and oversaw the curation of the Summer Fora. The team and trustees gave him a send-off with many current and past colleagues able to attend the zoom “party” from all over the country, with tea, cake, funny stories of the past and well-wishes for the future. Jim will still be in touch with the ATF through his continued work at the Arboricultural Association, particularly on VETcert. And I’m pleased that Jim will still remain involved in the ATF in other capacities, primarily as a trainer. This is building on the ATF’s positive relationship with other, previous team members, who are also still involved in the organisation.

Laura Alcock-Ferguson

Bradgate Park (photo credit Mick Boddy)

England Tree Strategy – the ATF’s response

The Ancient Tree Forum submitted its response to this government consultation after collaborating with two groups:

  1. Our volunteers – we invited a number of our close volunteer experts to write the ATF’s detailed response with us – and we’d like to thank them for their time. You can see the ATF’s official response here.
  2. Also, we took the main points of our own response above and contributed them to a wider response which was sent direct to Lord Goldsmith, by working as part a coalition of environmental charities convened by the Tree Council. This coalition put together a list of recommendations that should form the basis of the England Tree Strategy – called the “golden thread” – you can see this joint response here.

Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) 

ELMS (Environmental Land Management Scheme) is intended by Defra as the system by which ‘payment for public goods’ fully replaces the Basic Payment and Countryside Stewardship Schemes by 2028. It is based on the principles of the 25 Year Environment Plan and the Agriculture Bill, to “make sure that food production today does not come at the expense of food production tomorrow”. There are three distinct tiers proposed for the main ELM scheme:

  • Tier 1 - Sustainable farming and forestry practices that provide most benefit when delivered at scale
  • Tier 2 - Links incentivisation for environmental delivery with local collaboration.
  • Tier 3 - Supports landscape-scale land use change with delivering benefits to address the climate and nature emergencies. 

Agricultural management covers 69% of land in England and so ELMS is incredibly important not only to retaining our ancient and veteran trees, but also to combatting the climate and nature emergencies.

Read the ATF's response here

UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) 

The ATF is a consultee to the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS), which is currently coming up for a 5 year review. This is a certification standard designed to reflect requirements set out in the UK Forestry Standard as well as of the two leading forest certification schemes FSC and PEFC.

The review process is summarised here.  

The ATF has identified shortcomings in the existing standard and has submitted the following arguments as to why a review is overdue.

If successful, we will submit detailed comments and would welcome wider input from our supporters.

Tim Hill, ATF

Read the ATF's initial response

ATF training

 The ATF has postponed all training until 2021 and new dates have been set for the 2 day Understanding and Managing Veteran Trees course.

Most attendees have chosen to roll over their bookings to next year, but there a few spaces left at Burnham Beeches (26/27 July 2021) and at Chirk Castle (20/21 September 2021).

Book here for Burnham Beeches
Book here for Chirk Castle

Recognising Open Grown Trees

Megan Gimber

Picture a tree in a woodland. What does it look like? I am going to guess that you are picturing a tall tree, with very few branches until the top canopy where it reaches the light.  
Now picture a tree in a field. I bet the tree you are picturing has branches lower down the trunk, it has a full billowing crown, and maybe, just maybe, a thicker trunk. 


The Preston Twins - and then there was one...

As an ATF team, we have been framing our work within the themes of Recognise, Protect, Restore and Enhance. Julian Hight’s blog post below is about the iconic Preston Twin elms in Brighton, recognising their cultural and ecological heritage, and how and why their very survival has been significant. Julian also touches on the measures taken to attempt to protect the trees structurally and from Dutch Elm Disease.


The Secrets of Ancient Trees – talk by Tim Kellett, ATF Cornwall

To add to our engagement with your all under the theme, Recognise, here is a talk by our Cornwall ATF chair, Tim Kellet, recorded recently as part of the Cornwall Science Community virtual cafe series. Tim’s talk is 20 minutes long (plus a Q&A afterwards), and is called, “The Secrets of Ancient Trees”, focussing on the trees of Cornwall.


There has been a hiatus in the podcast series whilst we have been distracted by other things, mainly government consultations! We will be back to it, and in the meantime, we have re-published Luke Steer’s podcast, and the Bryophyte podcast for your listening pleasure (in case you missed them)!


Save the Cubbington wild pear from HS2 construction


The Cubbington Pear is thought to be over 250 years old, and is a local icon which has stood for generations at the top of a hill near South Cubbington Wood and overlooks the peaceful Leam Valley. It is believed to be the largest wild pear tree in Warwickshire and the second largest in the United Kingdom. Although the Cubbington Pear has a Tree Preservation Order on it, it is due to be felled as part of the construction work for HS2.  It was voted English Tree of the Year 2015.

HS2 Ltd’s plan is to fell the tree and place its remains in or near what is left of South Cubbington Wood as a “habitat” for wildlife.  Following an article in the Guardian newspaper about the tree, there has been an upsurge of interest (rather late in the day!) and a petition launched to save the tree.  A reliable source tells me that  “options are being now explored” to save the tree.  The more people that show their concern for the tree by signing this petition, the better, so please sign and share to publicise.

Here is the link to the petition:

Sign the petition

Britain's Ancient Forest: Legacy & Lore by Julian Hight

A special offer for ATF members: includes free forest music CD (usually £5) and free p&p (usually £3.10)
Buy It Here

New Regional ATFs added to our Subscription Database

With new regional ATFs being added all the time, it’s worth checking and updating your email preferences to make sure that you are kept up to date with events and news happening in your area. Click on the link below and update your preferences now!!
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ATF Events and Shop

Ancient Tree Forum Clothing

Ancient Tree Forum Clothing – new garments and colours available from our Teemill store. All items are made of 100% organic cotton, sustainably sourced and ethically produced. Each item can be fully traced through their website, providing peace of mind.

We have started with a small range of items and plan to add more in the future, make sure you check back for updates...
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Ancient and other veteran trees: further guidance on management

This 212 page handbook from the Ancient Tree Forum brings together the collective wisdom on the management of ancient and veteran trees for the benefit of owners, advisers and practitioners. It is a new, updated standard for the care and management of ancient and other veteran trees, which will serve those who own and manage old trees for decades to come. The book recognises that, alongside the appreciation of old trees, there are responsibilities for their continuity, protection and care.
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