Some trees are iconic features in our landscape. Large specimens in good health are magnificent, but some of our older specimens that are 'past their best' are also of interest and strangely attractive. They should be appreciated for their imposing presence and should be afforded protection from removal by both tree preservation orders and under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF 2012).
The Ancient Tree forum (http://www.ancienttreeforum.co.uk) Defines what it regards as:
1 - Ancient -Beyond maturity and old in comparison to others of the same species
2 - Veteran - A tree that show signs of damage and decay and is not necessarily old.
3 - Champion - The tallest and largest example in this country
5 - Heritage - Trees that have cultural and social relevance and may not be old, veteran or a champion.
6 - Notable - A tree that has an imposing presence in the landscape and could be a prime example of a mature specimen.
These terms are difficult to assimilate as a tree could be both ancient and in good health or young and veteranised. Trees of 'significance' need to be described correctly to avoid confusion and eliciting an emotional response that may not be intended or implied. Saying that a tree is veteran can lead to a presumption that the tree is also ancient. The value of a tree needs to encapsulate all of the six definitions above to inform any process that may follow that seeks to improve the tree resource under one, or more, of these headings. For example if might be that an area has a number of ancient trees, but no younger specimens that will follow and become the ancient trees of the future. We need to plant for the future.
You can find where these have been found and recorded on the Ancient Tree Hunt website using their interactive map (http://www.ancient-tree-hunt.org.uk).
In addition to the 'veteran' characteristics of notable trees (broken branches, hollow trunk, missing bark) they play host to a range of biodiversity like bracket fungi, mosses and liverworts, lichens and also bats and nesting birds.
Barry's interest in notable trees has resulted in a method for assessing all significant features and aspects of a notable tree (TREES - Tree Recording and Ecological Evaluation System) to inform either which specimens are of importance, or what the significant tree resource is locally and develop a strategy for ensuring continuity.