The Project

VETcert Ancient and veteran trees are genuine monuments of nature. Their historical, cultural, biodiversity and landscape value is invaluable. Veteran tree management clearly differs from standard arboricultural and forestry practice, being more complex, delicate and skill demanding. However, there is currently no transparency or clear skills recognition for professionals in this field. In practice, this means there is no mechanism for tree owners or contracting/purchasing organisations to specify the skills and knowledge they require for specialist veteran tree work. There have been many examples of poor work undertaken because the wrong contractors have been employed.

VETcert was a European project aiming at harmonising skills and knowledge recognition in veteran tree management. This was done by defining a common European minimum skills and knowledge level in veteran tree management at 2 operational levels: practicing and consulting tree work professionals. This will raise standards in veteran tree management across Europe and increase the mobility of tree work professionals. Target groups include certifying bodies, training centres, forestry and tree care companies (SME’s), individual arborists and foresters and contracting organisations (e.g. public bodies, government agencies, private tree owners etc.)

This project builds on the  European VETree project (2012-2014), focusing on the development of freely available basic training material in veteran tree management.  The VETree training material can be found on this website, alongside newly developed training material.

The VETcert partnership consists of 10 organisations from across Europe, both NGO’s, training and certification centres, arboricultural associations from different countries, private companies and a public body. There is a clear need to take on this work on a transnational level.  Arboriculture and forestry are increasingly European oriented industries. So standards, skills and knowledge recognition have been defined at a European level, allowing for the mobility of workers. Also, existing major certification schemes have an international focus but do not include specific modules on veteran tree management. Not being an exact science, there is a wide range of experiences, skills, knowledge and different approaches in veteran tree management. To ensure broad support and a good acceptance throughout Europe, standards have taken all these into account. Thus, they are applicable across the wide range of situations in which veteran trees are found in Europe (pollarded trees, urban trees, open grown trees, park trees, etc.)

The VETcert project ran from December 2016 till October 2019.


Step 1: survey of existing certification schemes

Step 2: development of veteran tree management standards on 2 operational levels: practicing and consulting veteran tree work.

Step 3: development of certification scheme and exam procedures

Step 4: development of training material to complement existing VETree material

Step 5: Define quality control framework and afterlife of the products