Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. Post-15 BAP. Updated to 2023




View of parkland with veteran trees at Wentworth Castle

Veteran trees with their substantial girth, holes and crevices, rot and dead wood, support 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 veteran characteristics:

  • Girth large for the tree species, allowing for growing conditions
  • Crown retrenchment and regrowth
  • Extensive hollowing and trunk cavities
  • Extensive dead or decaying wood
  • Decay holes, cavities and rot sites
  • Water pockets
  • Split, broken and dead limbs
  • Crevices; Loose or lost bark
  • Sap runs
  • Physical damage to the trunk, old wounds and scars
  • Interdependent wildlife species including fungi, epiphytes and 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

Determine whether a tree is an ancient or other veteran tree, by asking whether the tree has one or more of:

And then identifying the veteran features present: the more there are the more likely the tree is to be veteran or indeed ancient. Veteran trees are protected under the national planning policy framework.

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 veteran trees may be quite small in size, depending on the species and factors such as growing in adverse conditions. Local examples include Oaks on Wharncliffe Crag and Hawthorns in Stainborough Park.

See the Parkland habitat pages [links below] for more on Veteran Trees.

Veteran tree showing crown retrenchment: Stainborough Veteran Oak at Rockley: very large girth, pollarded

Veteran Trees

All ancient trees are veteran trees. However not all veteran trees are old enough to be ancient. Some veteran trees have developed their features as a result of incidents in their shorter lives and perhaps their environment. Veteran trees –whether ancient or not– are important for biodiversity.

Other trees may be notable for reasons such as size and position in the landscape.

Key Guidance

Ancient & other veteran trees: further guidance on management. Ancient Tree Forum  Edited by David Lonsdale (2013)

Ancient & veteran trees: An assessment guide, Woodland Trust.Gilmartin, E. (2022)

Natural England:
Standing Advice on Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees Veteran Trees management

Forestry Comm: Veteran trees

Woodland Trust: Ancient trees

Ancient Tree Inventory

Ancient Tree Forum: Information

Wokingham Veteran Tree Association has published Estimating the age of trees.with tables of girths and estimated ages for different tree species and growing conditions

Veteran Tree


The Ancient Tree Inventory distinguishes between ancient trees, veteran trees and notable trees.