A veteran tree is described by Natural England as a tree that “by virtue of its great age is of interest culturally, biologically and aesthetically.” Britain has one of the largest populations of old and ancient trees, most harbouring protected species and other valuable organisms. These trees need individual and careful management to ensure their retention and longevity. As they normally have been colonised by fungal species leading to a natural decline in size and structural integrity any veteran tree in a public place must be subject to individual inspection and a detailed management plan devised.
Veteran trees can easily be affected by changes to their local environment. Great care must be exercised when considering works to soils, rooting conditions, crown modification etc to prevent what may become a rapid decline in health.
These trees and many others play host to a wide range of other organisms, plants, fungi, insects and animals. Many of these are protected also require careful consideration as part of the overall management package.