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

Parkland, including veteran trees. Barnsley’s landscape is enriched by historic parklands with scattered, distinctive, sometimes veteran, trees punctuating open areas of grazed grassland.

Priority Habitat details

Parkland is a local priority habitat because of the value of veteran trees in grazed grassland and the wildlife species supported.

Urban parks with origins in the 19 century are also significant as habitats where they contain older trees and features.

The Local Priority Habitat is a form of national priority habitat Wood Pasture and Parkland. UK BAP priority habitats.

Barnsley parklands were developed in the 17th to early 19th centuries; most of the larger parks in Barnsley replaced medieval deer parks.

In the 19th century urban parks, like Locke Park, were developed.

Local Wildlife Sites

with parkland habitat

22 Stainborough Park

48 Bretton Park

Other LWSs contain veteran trees, for example Rockley Woods, Hoyland Bank Wood.

Other parkland habitat sites that should be considered for LWS status include:

Additional old parkland sites may also be considered.

Species supported by veteran trees and parkland habitats.

Bat species, making use of the crevices and hollow rot holes of veteran trees for roosting, include Noctule, Brown long-eared, Daubenton’s, Leisler’s and Natterer's Bat, Other species may also be found foraging, including both forms of Pipistrelle Bat.

Other mammals found in parkland habitats include Red and Fallow deer, Fox, Badger and Brown Hare as well as mice, voles and shrews.

Bird species in parkland habitats include hole nesting Lesser-spotted and Green woodpeckers, as well as Nuthatch, Tree creeper, Spotted Flycatcher, Song Thrush, and Hawfinch, (Examples from Rockley and Stainborough Park.)

Reptiles and amphibians include Grass snake, Common Toad and Frog.


Ctenophora pectinicornis, atelestes pulicarius, pachygaster atra, eudorylas fusculas, heline abdominalis and pyropterus nigroruber have all been identified in Stainborough Park.

Trees. A wide range of tree species occur in parklands. Locally Oak, Birch, Ash, Hawthorn and Hazel are often present. Beech, Sweet Chestnut, Sycamore and more exotic species have often been planted.

Veteran trees, wood pasture and parkland as habitat

The range of wildlife in parkland depends on a mosaic of habitats, grassland, woodland, hedgerows and scrub, as well as veteran trees; and on features such as lakes, ponds and streams.

However many species of fungi, lichen, mosses, invertebrates, birds and bats rely on veteran trees for their roosts, nests and food sources.

The plants that grow on the trees themselves (epiphytes) - lichens, mosses and liverworts - grow in well-lit areas on bark, trunks and branches.  Many species require open grown trees with spreading crowns and boughs and are often found in areas with rain tracks and wound seepages.

Fungi are critical in the ecology of almost all of the wildlife associated with veteran trees and some are themselves rare and restricted to only the oldest of trees. It is fungi that cause the decay and hollowing on which the other wildlife depends.

Dead, decayed or decaying wood is an essential component of parkland ecosystems; this includes heart rot, dead branches, stems and snags on living trees and fallen branches and stumps.  

Many different species of insects - especially beetles and flies - feed as larvae within the decaying wood and veteran trees support endangered, rare, dead wood specialists.

Some wildlife species depend on cavities, cracks, crevices, loose bark, and fissures. These include  bats which use these spaces for roosting.

Bird and mammal species often utilise adjacent habitats such as hedgerows, grasslands and woodlands and

Open areas are an essential part of the parkland habitat. Grassland with flowering plants produces the nectar and pollen for adult beetles and flies whose larvae develop in dead wood.

Grazing by domestic livestock or deer maintains the grassland around the characteristic veteran trees.

Unimproved grasslands are important for wildlife in their own right and the mosaic of habitats in parklands supports a wide variety of wildlife.

Factors causing loss or decline of parkland habitat

• Conversion of parkland habitat to other land uses such as arable fields, secondary woodland or amenity use, or for development

• Lack of younger generations of trees leads to breaks in continuity of deadwood habitat and loss of specialised dependent species.

• Neglect, and loss of expertise of traditional tree management skills (eg pollarding) leads to trees collapsing or being felled.

• Loss of veteran trees through disease (eg. Dutch Elm disease, Oak die-back), physiological stress such as drought and storm damage, and competition for resources with surrounding younger trees.

• Removal of veteran trees and deadwood through perceptions of safety, tree hygiene and tidiness; for firewood, or through vandalism.

• Damage from soil compaction and erosion and from changes to ground-water levels.

• Isolation and fragmentation of the remaining veteran trees and parkland sites in the landscape. (Many of the species dependent on old trees are unable to move between these sites due to poor powers of dispersal and the increasing distances they need to travel).

Good management practice of veteran trees and parkland

If the wildlife that depends on veteran trees is to survive into the future, trees must be available to take their place and become veteran. New trees need to be planted and trees kept to mature.

Existing veteran trees should be conserved and protected using the best practice methods identified by Natural England, the Forestry Commission, Woodland Trust and others (see links).

Conserve aged and veteran trees for their biodiversity and cultural value even if ‘untidy. Interpretation notices will help people understand.

Dead wood of all ages, both standing and fallen, should be retained. Trees that fall over should be kept if possible and may regrow. If safety work is to be undertaken consider removing only rotten branches and possibly pollarding the tree. Retain fallen/felled wood close to where it falls if safe to do so.

The grassland around veteran trees in parkland requires managed grazing to maintain the diversity of plant species and other wildlife, and to control scrub that competes with the veteran trees. There need to be some areas of grassland with flowering plants.


Historic England’s Register of  Historic Parks and Gardens includes grade 1 listed Stainborough Park and grade 2 listed Bretton, Cannon Hall, Wortley and Locke Park.

Inclusion in Historic England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens is a material consideration for planning applications.

Legal protection

National planning policy. NPPF Para 118, recognises Aged or Veteran trees as well as Ancient Woodland as irreplaceable.

The presence of Veteran Trees is a material consideration in any planning or change of use application.

Wood Pasture and Parkland may be identified as Ancient Woodland.

with its presumption against clearance of or development.

Natural England’s Standing Advice on protecting Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees from development includes Veteran Trees whether they are within parkland, or in other areas.

Some individual and groups of trees are protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs).

Some veteran trees are located within Conservation Areas where work on any tree is subject to consultation with the local planning authority.

Local Wildlife Site status is also a consideration in applications for change of use or development..

Individual trees may also have some protection if they contain bat roosts or hole nesting birds.


Natural England:

Standing Advice on  Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees

Veteran Trees: a guide to good management

Forestry Comm: Veteran trees

Woodland Trust: Ancient Tree Hunt

Treeworks: Surveying ancient trees

Buglife: Woodpasture and parklands

Historic England: Conservation Management Plans

Key objectives for parkland and veteran trees

Marking progress


Landowners, including private estates, trusts, and Barnsley Council: follow best practice in managing parklands to ensure that their biodiversity, cultural, and amenity value is maintained.

Similarly protect and conserve veteran trees, wherever they are.

Natural England and English Heritage: give advice and provide grants for historic parklands.  

Barnsley Council as a planning authority: sets conditions in relevant planning applications to ensure that the biodiversity and cultural value of parklands are maintained and enhanced. Also issues Tree Preservation Orders and designates Conservation Areas which can protect parklands.

Voluntary groups and volunteers: help with parkland management and conservation.

Barnsley Council has identified the importance of the historic corridor of parklands from Bretton to Wharncliffe, to the west of the MI, in its Local Plan.

Local groups and volunteers: help with information about parklands and veteran trees and provide wildlife records to the Record Centre. The analysis of these records help with conservation. Sites can be suggested for designation as local wildlife sites and veteran trees for TPOs.

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Historic parklands have important features that support wildlife such as lakes, ponds, gardens, grassland, orchards, and old built structures. But they are particularly notable for mature or veteran trees occurring as individuals or small groups of trees within grazed grassland. This is a form of ‘wood pasture’. More information on veteran trees is given on an additional page.

Surviving parkland in Barnsley is mainly in a corridor to the west of the M1 from Bretton to Wortley, including Cannon Hall and Stainborough.*

Map of historic parklands from South Yorkshire Historic Environment Characterisation produced by South Yorkshire Archaeology Service.

For more details:

Some parkland sites have been lost or damaged through development or open cast mining. Other parkland has been turned to uses such as arable fields, plantations and amenity land, however some parkland features such as veteran trees may have survived even there.

* Other examples are Haigh Hall, Birthwaite Hall, Noblethorpe Hall, Burnt Wood Hall, Middlewood Park, and Worsbrough Park,

What is being done?

Proposed actions