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Veteran Tree Management

Extensive travelling in Scotland and England and working with trees since 1975 has led Astell Associates to an understanding of Veteran Trees and their management.

Veteran trees are a unique part of the environment. They are found in woods, parklands, associated with old buildings (castles etc) or are found associated with different environmental associations.

Their longevity is little understood, but over the last few years, research has been progressing to try and understand the many systems that operate within the descriptions of the Veteran or Ancient Tree.

It is this understanding of these veteran trees that has helped arborists to understand general tree ecology, by linking trees not only to their air/land relationship through their leaves and roots, but also to their links with other ecological systems, as habitat for birds, freptiles, mammals and insects. This kaleidoscope of inter-relationships, some beneficial, some not so beneficial, means that a tree and its associated, and often parallel, biaology is in a constant state of flux.

It is an understanding of this flux, and the state of flux at the time of investigation of the tree, that is important to the management of veteran trees.

No management is often good management, however, sometimes no management in a physical sense, can be bad management. Different veteran trees, of the same species and same age can need different mangement proposals, depending on their structure and 'physicallity'. This latter will depend on what has happened to the tree in the past decades or centuries of its life.

This physical appearance and an assessment of structural strength is also related to physiological conditions within the tree, and the ebb and flow of the myriad life cycles that are occurring on and within the ree itself.

Studies of veteran trees, and aspects of canopy failure, and future risk have shown that it is difficult to predict a hazard or future risk with certainty. However, these studies have given 'indicators' for management. These indicators, when interpreted with a degree of common sense give a basis for veteran tree management which is reliable.

Astell Associates have accepted the need for a holistic approach to veteran tree management using all aspects of the tree's interrelated biology to produce a management prescription. This management is based on the observations of veteran trees and how they have managed in the past to remain active and become a veteran.