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New learning tool for planners to help protect ancient trees and woods

Planning policy has given England’s ancient woods and trees better protection. We’re working hard to make sure the new rules are followed. Together with the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), we’ve created a new, free online learning module which launches this month to help planners recognise some of our most important habitats.

Why is the tool needed?

Published last summer, the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England put the protection of ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees on a par with the best of our built heritage for the first time.

But it is being interpreted differently across the country. Some ancient woods and trees are still being damaged or destroyed where the policy should protect them.

We're still working hard to make sure the NPPF is properly applied (Photo: Jim Smith-Wright/WTML)
We're still working hard to make sure the NPPF is properly applied (Photo: Jim Smith-Wright/WTML)

There is a clear need to strengthen the case for ancient woods and trees among planners to make sure these precious places are valued properly. This new module will highlight the NPPF’s tighter protection for thousands of professionals. As well as highlighting the NPPF, it considers national policy across the whole of the UK and will be an important tool for planners working anywhere in the UK.

Why work with the RTPI?

The RTPI is the key organisation for sharing advice, guidance and information with planners.  It has over 25,000 members across the UK – including me! As a Chartered Institute, it’s responsible for maintaining professional standards and accrediting world class planning courses nationally and internationally.

Members have to maintain a record of continuing professional development. The RTPI hosts online learning modules – and now also boasts ours - to help planners maintain and develop their expertise. The new module will help planners to learn:

  • why ancient woods and trees are important
  • how they are affected by development
  • how to lessen the impacts and protect our valuable natural heritage.

The module has been developed with the support of the Forestry Commission and Natural Heritage Scotland. It's free of charge - critical at a time when so many local planning authorities are cash strapped. It’s open to everyone, so please do share it with anyone you think may benefit from it. Have a go yourself if you would like to learn more.

What else are we doing to protect ancient woods and trees?

We’re working on cases of woods and trees under threat every day. In 2018 we dealt with more than 280 cases of development threatening ancient woodland. Our responses ranged from just one letter outlining our position, to our HS2 campaign, which included an 18 page consultation response alongside 30,000 objections from our brilliant supporters. 

In England, we’re fighting to make sure delivery of infrastructure projects considered ‘wholly exceptional’ is sensitive and sustainable. And in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we continue to battle for planning policy improvements. Add your voice to the call for better protection.

Your support remains crucial to the future of our ancient woods and ancient and veteran trees. Thank you.

We can only protect the ancient and veteran trees we know about

Become a recorder for the ancient tree inventory