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courtesy of John McBain
courtesy of John McBain
courtesy of John McBain
courtesy of John McBain

Recording a Veteran Tree

You will need to record the species, location and girth of the tree using a simple recording form which can be downloaded from our website, or you can use the online recording form.

It is useful to have a map or a GPS with you so that you can note down the grid reference. You will need permission from the owner if the tree is on private land.

If you have a tape measure, wrap it around the tree trunk at its narrowest point, normally about 1.5m up from the ground. If you don't have a tape, give the tree an enormous hug! An adult hug (arms outstretched as far as possible) is equivalent to 1.5m on average. Count how many hugs it takes to surround the tree and you have fairly good measure of how wide it is.

Other information that can be of interest includes the presence of any species such as insects, mosses, and fungi and evidence of birds and bats. Note also the condition of the tree, for instance whether there is any decay or hollowing in the trunk.

Don't forget to take a picture and record any stories about the tree if possible.

The Woodland Trust has produced some amazing leaflets to help you with the survey. These can be downloaded from the Books and Publications section of this website.

Where will I find a veteran tree?

Whilst native woodland might seem the obvious choice for a tree hunt, high densities of veteran trees are also likely to be found in some of the region's historic parklands, estates, old deer parks and ancient hedges. Take a look round some of the urban parks, village greens and churchyards. Veteran trees can also often be found in hedgerows.

How do I know if it's old enough to record?

Detemining the age of a tree is always difficult, even for experts. The fact that different species of tree age at different rates complicates this further! There is a Rule of Thumb document available to help determine whether a tree is old enough to be deemed 'veteran', but this should only be used if you want to be meticulous.

For the purpose of this project, the following girth measurements at 1.5m height can be used as a guide as to whether the tree should be recorded. Remember a coppiced or pollarded tree will have a smaller girth and may still be worth recording.

Smaller trees such as hawthorn, blackthorn, field maple, rowan, birch and holly the tree should have a girth of at least 1.5m. For the larger trees such oak, ash, sycamore, chestnut and willows the tree should have a girth of at least 3m.

What do I do with the results?  

Fill in the online recording form
to send your results directly to the database. If your data is recorded on one of our printable recording form, post your completed form - along with any photographs either on a disc or hard-copy - to the following address:

Veteran Trees Project,
Durham Biodiversity Partnership,
c/o Durham Wildlife Trust,
Rainton Meadows,
Chilton Moor,
Houghton-le-Spring,
Tyne and Wear
DH4 6PU.