Ancient Tree Forum (ATF) and the Arboricultural Association (AA) have been awarded a
grant for the project ‘Training and certifying professionals in AoVT (Ancient and other
Veteran Trees) management’ from the £6 million Trees Call to Action Fund, led by Defra,
the Forestry Commission and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

In this country, we have some of the highest numbers of Ancient and other Veteran Trees
(AoVTs) in Europe. However, compared with 300 years ago, only 1% – 2% of the UK
population remains and even this reduces by 2% each year.

For biodiversity, climate, and cultural heritage reasons, it is vital to ensure the survival of
our remaining AoVTs. Those managing these precious trees must be appropriately
knowledgeable and skilled to properly protect them.

This collaborative project will secure an industry-wide, strategic approach to improving
professionals’ skills and knowledge to boost protection, resilience, and appropriate
management of our most precious trees, now and into the future.

A core part of the project is a full roll-out of VETcert – the European-wide gold-standard of
practising and consultant-level skills needed by professionals undertaking work with AoVTs.
Together, Ancient Tree Forum and the Arboricultural Association will deliver a
comprehensive programme of VETcert training and examination opportunities, involving
both the professionals working directly with trees, and the landowners and managers
responsible for their stewardship. Training places can be booked at:

The Trees Call to Action Fund support projects which protect trees and woodlands, boost
forestry skills and jobs, develop woodland creation partnerships, and engage communities
with nature. The fund will distribute grants between £250,000-500,000 to be spent over
three years, funding 12 projects across England.

Laura Alcock-Ferguson, CEO at the ATF, said:
“This project will improve skills and knowledge for up to 450 professionals across England,
so that ancient trees receive the specialist management that is critical to prolong their lives.
As England transitions to the full launch of the Environmental Land Management scheme in
2024, this project will train professionals in the sector to respond to the enhanced focus on
veteran tree management at a critical time”.

The other projects funded through this year’s Trees Call to Action Fund include six new
Woodland Creation Partnerships across rural and urban areas; two projects to develop the
skills and workforce of the trees and forestry sector; and three projects which engage
people, by planting an NHS forest, engaging farmers to improve woodland condition, and
restoring England’s hedgerows. All projects funded will support progress towards achieving
the key objectives of the England Trees Action Plan – the Government’s long-term plans for
England’s trees, woodlands, and forests.

John Parker, CEO at the AA, said:
“The Arboricultural Association is delighted to be working with our partners at the Ancient
Tree Forum on this exciting new project. By upskilling tree care professionals across England
we will be able to ensure that our ancient and veteran trees receive the specialist
management that they need to thrive for decades and centuries to come.”