Barnsley Biodiversity Trust logo Barnsley Biodiversity Trust: Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. DRAFT Last Updated February 2019

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 aging characteristics:

Inspecting girth of veteran tree Janet Carbutt-Lang inspecting girth of veteran tree

Dedicated to the  memory of Janet Carbutt-Lang who led BBT work on veteran trees

  • Crown retrenchment and regrowth
  • Girth large for the tree species
  • Trunk hollowing
  • Dead wood in canopy and often on ground
  • Split, broken and dead limbs
  • Cavities, holes and rot sites; crevices in the bark
  • Old wounds and scars; sap runs; loose and lost bark
  • High number of 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

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 or beiing repeatedly coppiced or pollarded. Local examples include oaks on Wharncliffe Crag and Hawthorns in Stainborough Park.


The National Planning Policy Framework and Natural England’s Standing Advice on protecting Veteran Trees from development includes Veteran Trees whether they are within parkland or in other areas. The presence of veteran trees is a material consideration in planning applications.


Development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats (such as  … ancient or veteran trees) should be refused, unless there are wholly exceptional reasons and a suitable compensation strategy exists. NPPF para 175c


See the Parkland habitat pages for more on Veteran Trees.

Veteran tree showing crown retrenchment: Stainborough Veteran Oak at Rockley