Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Ancient Woodland and Ancient & Veteran Trees – James Butler-White

Associate member James Butler-White, Senior Arboricultural Consultant at Wharton Natural Infrastructure Consultants, gives us an insight into his final-year dissertation project…

I’m currently studying on the final year of the BSc (Hons) in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry at Myerscough College. As part of my final-year syllabus, we are required to undertake a research project and dissertation on a subject of interest within the Arboricultural industry, which will enhance our knowledge and hopefully lead to further research in the subject area.

My dissertation is based on ancient woodland and ancient & veteran trees. It seeks to understand if the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) affords sufficient protection to these important habitats. Given the current climate crisis we are facing, and with discussions surrounding the recent COP26 summit and passing of the Environment Act 2021, the importance of conserving and enhancing green space, biodiversity and habitats has never been more critical. As ancient woodland and ancient & veteran trees provide all of these unique environmental benefits, it has never been more important that we ensure that the natural environment and these valuable habitats are protected. The competing needs and pressure for more housing and infrastructure is resulting in more strain on the natural environment, so it is vital that we all ensure their protection and enhancement remains higher on the political agenda.

Fundamentally, it is more important than ever that the natural and built environment sectors come together to influence the protection of ancient woodland and ancient & veteran trees, to ensure their invaluable benefits are realised as opposed to them being seen as a constraint or burden to the planning process. The purpose of my research to understand industry professional’s opinions and attitudes on the following research questions:

  • Does the current NPPF legislation and other local planning policy afford sufficient protection to ancient woodland and ancient & veteran trees during the planning & development process
  • Are suitable compensation strategies being implemented to offset the loss or reducing their impact to ancient woodland and/or ancient & veteran trees
  • Are planning conditions being enforced and adhered to on development sites with ancient woodland and ancient & veteran trees

By conducting this research project, my aim is to provide an overview of professional’s opinions and perceptions within the natural and built environment sectors of are dealing with ancient woodland, ancient & veteran trees in terms of development, and how the current legislation could be improved to afford these valuable habitats more protection within the planning process.

I would be hugely grateful if you take five minutes of your time to fill out my questionnaire, which can be found at  The closing date for the survey is the 14th February 2022.  Should you wish to discuss my research proposal in more detail please contact me on .

Latest news