Ancient woodlands and aged trees: top tips

The presence of ancient woodland and aged tress can present significant constraints to redevelopment. Developers need to understand when you have ancient woodland and aged trees and the protection that they are afforded under the planning regime and statute. With the right knowledge, trees and woodlands can be integrated into a development scheme in a positive way to add value and meet other planning requirements.


✔ Top tips

  • Understand what makes a woodland ‘ancient’
  • Identify the trees and categorise them as Locally notable, Veteran and Ancient
  • Carry out desktop surveys and follow these up with site surveys to identify ancient woodland features and designations
  • Consider the health of the site and the possible loss of ecological value
  • Identify the site constraints including the physical features associated with ancient woodlands (wood banks, boundary pollards, archaeological features, etc.)
  • Determine the required buffer under planning guidance at an early stage to reduce unnecessary revisions to layouts
  • Identify statutory designations (Tree Preservation Orders [TPO], Conservation Areas, part of SSSI)
  • Specialist management techniques need to be considered when dealing with veteran and ancient trees
  • Remember to consider the Occupiers Liability Act when retaining trees of a poor structural condition
  • Understand the requirements of legislation regarding trees, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act
  • Never assume a woodland is not ancient because it has been planted with commercial conifers
  • Never assume that a tree is not important because it is in poor condition
  • Where in doubt, seek specialist advice

× Things to avoid

  • Don't start construction before adequate tree protection is in place and agreed by the Local Authority
  • Do not store materials within ancient woodlands
  • Avoid any drainage that will affect the water table within the woodland
  • Use of unqualified and poorly trained tree workers
  • Avoid environmental impacts of construction work on old trees
  • Don’t get prosecuted, damage (above and below ground) to trees covered by TPOs is a criminal offence!

Ancient woodlands and aged trees flow chart

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