Frequently asked questions

What is VETcert?


VETcert is a pan-European certification scheme for veteran tree specialists developed to raise the standard in veteran tree management across Europe. It provides individuals with the opportunity to have their skills and expertise recognised, increasing opportunities for work, both at home and across Europe. It also makes it easier for organisations procuring veteran tree management services to identify and select suitable professionals.

The VETcert certification scheme was developed by an Erasmus+ funded project which ran between 2016 and 2019. The project brought together ten partners from several European countries, including the UK, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, France and Czech Republic.


How do I go about becoming VETcert?


Each participating country has a VETcert Certification Centre (VCC) which will be responsible for arranging and organising the exams. Details of upcoming exams can be found here.

The certification scheme is available at two levels: Practising and Consulting. Practising is aimed at professionals who are ‘on the tools’, those who physically undertake the management (e.g. soil management, climbing, pruning, etc.). Consulting is aimed at professionals who provide advice (e.g. tree officers, consultant arboriculturists or ecologists).

Are there any prerequisites?


Prerequisites for each level can be found here. Recognising the diverse range of backgrounds within the discipline of veteran tree management, there are several options.

Please note that if you are unable to provide the necessary evidence that you meet the prerequisites, then your booking may be cancelled. If you have any questions, or wish to check your prerequisites before booking an exam, please get in touch with your VETcert Certification Centre.


What will the exams cover?


The exams seek to test the wide breath of expertise required to manage veteran trees. The Veteran Tree Management Standards form the basis of the VETcert exam.

The standards comprise twelve units and cover all aspects of veteran tree management.

Whilst both levels cover similar areas, the Consulting level demands a higher level of knowledge and understanding than Practising. There are also some key differences in the requirements of each unit. Taking unit 10 (Veteran tree management in all its aspects) as an example, the Practising level focusses on how work is planned and undertaken, whereas Consulting level focusses on providing management advice.


What format will the VETcert exam take?


Both exams, for Consulting and for Practising, are each delivered over one day, with two examiners.

The Practising exam consists of a 2-hour written exam (multiple choice and short written answers) plus a 2-hour outside exercise including oral questioning, both on generic topics and on individual trees with a given work specification. Candidates are not required to climb, use a platform or carry out pruning during the exam, but will be expected to describe in detail how and why work would be planned and carried out. The overall time of the exam, including breaks, is around 5 hours.

The Consulting exam also consists of a 2-hour written exam plus a 2-hour outside exercise including oral questioning. The oral questioning covers some generic topics and then focuses on specific, individual trees which the candidate is required to survey and consider appropriate management recommendations. The Consultant exam includes a third session in which candidates are required to produce a management report on the trees they have surveyed on site. Candidates are provided with a report template which sets out the topic areas and level of detail required and need to prepare this on the day within 2 hours. The overall time of the exam, including breaks, is around 7 hours.

What is the pass mark?


The pass mark for both exams is 75%. However, in addition to achieving 75% or above overall, each candidate must also achieve at least 50% in each section of the exam.

If they fail to achieve this pass mark, candidates will be required to undertake individual sections in which they scored under 75% again.


How long is the certification valid for?


The qualifications are valid for three years, after which there will be a requirement to submit evidence of continuous professional development and continuing veteran tree work experience, in order to renew their certification for a further three years.


What is the cost of an exam?


The costs for candidate registration, examination and certification depend on the VETcert Certification Centre. Please contact your VETcert Certification Centre directly for costs.

When will I find out whether I passed the exam?


Candidates will be informed whether they passed or failed within 4 weeks of sitting the exam. VETcert certificates and cards will be issued within 8 weeks of sitting the exam.


Do I need to attend a training course before sitting a VETcert exam?


No. The examination is not linked to a training course. However, training materials have been produced to support those who plan to sit a VETcert exam.

What training material is available to prepare me for the VETcert exam?


A whole range of fact sheets, case studies, training videos and a bibliography and glossary have been developed to support candidates for the VETcert exam. This training material can be found here.

Also, a new two-day training course, Understanding and Managing Veteran Trees, has been developed. This two-day course builds on the one-day course developed in the VETree project, but tackles more complex topics than the one-day course, including:

  •     Tree architecture, a new way of thinking about how trees age.
  •     Fungi and hollowing.
  •     Soil and roots.
  •     Managing the land around the tree.
  •     Assessing your tree.
  •     Tree species differences.
  •     Tree pruning, including unconventional pruning techniques.
  •     Management planning.
  •     Biodiversity, populations and veteranisation of young trees.

This training course is delivered by several partners, including the Ancient Tree Forum. See their website or sign up to the Ancient Tree Forum newsletter for more information.