Surge in interest for veteran tree management certification

A Europe-wide project to standardise veteran tree management is now preparing to offer training and examinations and has already registered interest from nearly 300 practitioners in the UK alone.

Ancient trees in Hatfield Park, Herts - image: Gary Houston (CC0)
Ancient trees in Hatfield Park, Herts - image: Gary Houston (CC0)

The EU-funded VETcert programme to develop standards for practising and consulting veteran tree professionals rain from December 2016 until August 2019.

The event concluded with a conference on 28 August in Norrköping, Sweden, where the programme's first certificate was presented to Ted Green, one of the UK's best-known experts on ancient trees and woodlands.

"We now have a series of examiners in six out the seven partner countries, and are already planning exams in five of them, including the UK," project coordinator Vikki Bengtsson told Horticulture Week

"Organisations including the City of London, the National Trust and the Woodland Trust are all keen to specify the certification in tenders for specialist work. There is a lot of work on both the practising and consulting sides."

Among the latter, those signing up extend beyond arboriculture into related disciplines of landscape management and forestry, she added.

"Already, nearly 300 people in the UK have said thy'd like to do it in the next 18 months, with about the same again elsewhere in Europe."

The Ancient Tree Forum (ATF) and Arboricultural Association (AA) are UK partners in the initiative, which is overseen by the European Arboricultural Council.

At this week's AA conference, its senior technical officer John Parker praised the project as "a brilliant example of international cooperation".

Training materials continue to be published on the project website, which currently hosts ten videos covering different aspects of veteran and ancient tree management.

"Some of the information was quite inaccessible, especially for those not in the academic world," Bengtsson said.

"We have avoided making it too country-specific, though the changes in UK planning have come at a good time, both for the trees and for the project."

Those interested in training and certification can register here. This will determine where and when examinations will be held.

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