ATF  Newsletter - March 2021
Boscobel Oak (photo credit: Neville Fay)

CEO update - our work this coming year, a new chair, a new structure and staff recruitment 

Coming up in 2021-2022 - here is a flavour of what we have planned for the year ahead. We’ll be: 

  • Developing our training materials so they can be offered both online and, when possible, face to face  
  • Announcing a full training programme and our first online events for the year by late spring
  • Working with the Woodland Trust in the delivery of a Green Recovery Challenge Fund project 
  • Updating and launching three Ancient Tree Guides, including events to share these 
  • Re-engaging volunteers through a new structure, and listening to feedback - including running events that bring experts together. 

And the CEO and board of trustees will be ensuring that the ATF can continue to work into the long-term, including: 

  • Business planning and fundraising for 2022-2027
  • Continuing to ensure the ATF is innovative, inclusive, well-managed and legally compliant
  • Recruiting new trustees. 

Like many organisations, we’ve had to make changes to our work in the last 12 months of the pandemic – and we know that many of you have missed our regular events “under a tree”.

So we are sorry to announce that we will be postponing our April training until later in the year, due to Covid restrictions.  However, we will be announcing a full training programme by the end of Spring.

As well as online podcasts, policy influencing and supporting local groups, we’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes in the last 12 months, much of which is now coming to fruition. Here are three pieces of news: 

Behind the scenes #1 – the ATF has a new Chair 

Vikki Bengtsson takes over the role from the March 2021 board meeting from Russell Miller. Russell will stay on the board as a trustee. 

Vikki is known by many in the ATF - she was a founder trustee, until she stepped away from the board for a while in March 2019.  She returned to the board in October 2020 and was recently interviewed for the role of Chair, and was the standout candidate. 

We will be thanking Russell more fulsomely for his time as Chair since 2016, in due course. Meanwhile, I’m sure you will wish Vikki all the very best in her new role. 

Behind the scenes #2 - strategy and structure 

Since last summer, over 200 people have contributed to the strategic review at the ATF. After all of this work, in March 2021, two trustees and the CEO held a small event for close stakeholders to preview the draft strategy. This feedback has been taken on board, and the board approved the new strategy at the March board meeting.  

Over the coming months, we hope you will want to work with us as we work on new ways for you to engage with the ATF, as experts, as experts, volunteers and people with a longstanding interest in ancient and other veteran trees. 

Behind the scenes #3 – a new staff structure and we’re recruiting! 

To help us get on with the work coming up, and to get ready for our new strategy, we’ve agreed a new staff structure and are recruiting. We’re particularly keen on receiving applications for two key roles in the team - the technical and training officer and the outreach and partnerships officer.  The deadline for both is midnight, Monday, 5th April.

Find out more about the roles here .....
Vikki Bengtsson

A warm welcome to Vikki Bengtsson as the new ATF chair

Watch Vikki's short video about her recent appointment
ATF at Chêne de l'Entente, Compiègne

Obituary for Mike Townsend, former ATF President and a true friend of ancient trees

It is with great sadness that the Ancient Tree Forum notes the loss of Mike Townsend, who was for many years the organisation’s President. His involvement in the Ancient Tree Forum, primarily when he was CEO of the Woodland Trust, was a game changer. He had the vision to see how charities could work together, saving money by sharing resources and providing support to one another. His ambition and openness really gave the Ancient Tree Forum a foot up and allowed us to focus on punching far above our weight.

He also ensured that ancient woodland and ancient trees were at the heart of the Woodland Trust by employing an ancient tree specialist, Jill Butler, and supporting her close association with the ATF over the years. Mike facilitated the production of the early Ancient Tree Guides, combining the strengths & expertise of both organisations.  

Mike always gave his time generously to the Ancient Tree Forum, helping us navigate through the process of becoming a charity and facilitating our very first strategy for the organisation. He was also a great intellect and had much to contribute to many of the debates regarding the management and protection of ancient trees. As Ted Green would say, ‘a friendship made under a tree, is a friendship for life’. Mike was a true friend of trees and to us: we will miss him. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.  

Florence Court (photo credit: Keith Alexander)

The Government have published their analysis of the consultation they carried out on ELMS. 

The ATF is pleased to see recognition of the points we made in the following principle conclusions:  the Review is a compilation of responses to the consultation but it’s not clear how the government will let the responses influence the next stages.

Read ATF's response
Ganoderma in Richmond Park (photo credit: Hannah Solloway)

ATF Podcasts

There are two for you this time.

In episode 6, Clare de Villanueva speaks with Tim Kellett and Lawrie Sampson about what might be emerging from the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) proposals as it affects established trees. What can be done to recognise, manage and protect ancient and veteran trees outside ELMS? What are the management barriers to farmers and land managers in following the best practice that protects our oldest trees’ longevity? Find out all this and more as we talk to two people who spend time on farms with farmers and their beautiful, treasured trees. 

In episode 7, you can hear Clare de Villanueva speak with Ola Bengtsson about lichens, their significance to a place, their classification and usefulness. Are they mobile or static compared to an ancient tree and how does this determine the threats they face?  We also mention tasting/licking specimens as a diagnostic tool… Enjoy!

Steven Falk's Report for the Woodland Trust - read more

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...
Buy online here

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.
Buy It Here
If you have any news, reports and anything of interest that you would like to share with subscribers of the Ancient Tree Forum's newsletter, please do get in touch as we would be very happy to put it on our next newsletter. Please use the 'Contact Us' button below.
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