Barnsley Biodiversity Trust: Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. Last Updated October 2018

Veteran trees with their substantial girth, holes and crevices, rot and dead wood, support a a wide range of often uncommon fungi, lichen, mosses, invertebrates -particularly beetles, and notably bats.


The age, size and distinctive shapes of veteran trees, both native and non-native species, are of exceptional value for wildlife and their contribution to the historic landscape.


Veteran trees are usually old, beyond the peak of their growth. They may also be younger, middle-aged trees with aging characteristics:

Inspecting girth of veteran tree Janet Carbutt-Lang inspecting girth of veteran tree

Dedicated to the  memory of Janet Carbutt-Lang who led BBT work on veteran trees

  • Crown retrenchment and reiterative growth
  • Girth large for the tree species with trunk hollowing
  • Dead wood in the canopy and often on the ground
  • Split, broken and dead limbs
  • Cavities, holes and rot sites; crevices in the bark
  • Old wounds and scars; sap runs; loose and lost bark
  • High number of interdependent wildlife species including fungi, epiphytes, invertebrates.
Dead branch in a veteran treeHollowed out trunk of veteran tree at Cannon HallOld wounds and scars on veteran tree at RockleyCavities and rot in veteran tree

Most veteran trees are found in historic parklands (60% nationally), however some are found as isolated individuals or in small numbers in hedgerows, churchyards and, as relics of older landscapes, in fields.


Some smaller trees may be veteran, for example hawthorn. Smaller trees may also include those growing in adverse conditions and some repeatedly coppiced or pollarded.


The National Planning Policy Framework and Natural England’s Standing Advice on protecting Veteran Trees from development includes Veteran Trees whether they are within parkland, or in other areas. The presence of veteran trees is a material consideration in planning applications.


Development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as  … ancient or veteran trees) should be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy exists. NPPF para 175c


More information on Veteran Trees and their conservation is given on the Parkland habitat pages.

Veteran tree showing crown retrenchment: Stainborough Veteran Oak at Rockley