High Weald

dallingtontreeThis report highlights the importance of ancient and veteran trees at Dallington Forest in East Sussex. The study is the result of an extensive project aiming to establish and promote the ecological value of the area and advise on best practice in managing the landscape.

Report Title:
Dallington Forest Ancient and Veteran Tree Survey


pdf Dallington Forest Veteran and Ancient Tree Survey (5.19 MB)

Status and date:
Complete, August 2017

Research purpose:
Ancient and veteran trees are understood to be associated with wood pastures, parkland and wooded commons. This research aims to investigate the number and character of ancient and veteran trees associated with ‘managed’ woodlands; recognising that such trees can also be strongly associated with management compartments and ownership boundaries in well-wooded area with long histories of management.

Research aims:

  • To undertake an ancient and veteran tree survey of Dallington Forest, an area of 205 hectares characteristic of the High Weald, being well wooded area with a long history of woodland management.
  • To assess the number and character of ancient and veteran trees in the area.


  • Dallington Forest Ancient and Veteran Tree Survey Report
  • Survey data, GIS locations and images of 1014 individual trees, and 15 groups of trees, providing data on age class, species, form, status and management.

Funded by:
Peter William George Smith Charitable Trust

Key findings:
The research has confirmed that high numbers of veteran and ancient trees are characteristic of the Dallington Forest area, a well-wooded area with a long history of woodland management that is typical of the High Weald AONB.

A total of 1014 individual trees and 15 groups of trees were recorded (987 alive and 27 dead). There were 22 species of tree and shrub, with beech (41%) and oak (33%) dominating. In terms of age class 49% of the trees were veteran and 6% were ancient. Regarding tree form 57% are coppice (i.e. managed), 25% maiden and 12% forked (a subtype of maiden) and 4% natural pollard.

The ancient and veteran oaks were generally associated with boundaries and gills and the majority were coppiced. Distribution of ancient and veteran beech showed a similar picture to oak, but with a concentration of dispersed ancient trees in the Forge Wood area. Again the majority were coppiced.

A clear association of two categories of coppice trees, stub cut and laid, with boundaries is apparent, though there are differences. It is suggested that stub cut trees are more likely to represent ownership boundaries, dividing woodland and former fields. Laid trees show a different distribution, being more prevalent in boundaries between fields (and former fields).

The ancient and veteran trees of Dallington Forest’s ‘managed’ woodlands may be as significant as those found wood pastures, parkland and wooded commons. However Dallington Forest is poorly recorded for many species groups associated with ancient and veteran trees. Targeted survey for old growth specialists is recommended to understand the importance of this site.

Many of the trees, particularly those in woodland, require sympathetic management to remove competitive growth (haloing) following the cessation of traditional woodland management. This will benefit species associated with veteran and ancient trees, particularly those that utilise decaying wood (saproxylic), as they require some light and warmth.