Ancient Tree Forum (ATF) and the Arboricultural Association (AA) have been awarded a grant for the project ‘Training and certifying professionals in AoVT 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 (ATF) and the Arboricultural Association (AA) 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.
The Trees Call to Action Fund supports 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”.
John Parker, CEO at the Arboricultural Association, 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.”
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.