Welcoming New Tree Wardens

Tree Warden networks have been launched or revitalised in Derby, North Somerset and Erewash in Derbyshire.

Derby’s first-ever Tree Wardens are already planning to host a regional forum, less than a year after the network started to get off the ground.

The city council held a public meeting in December to gauge interest, using the “Introduction to Tree Wardening” PowerPoint presentation in the co-ordinators’ toolkit on The Tree Council website.

This was followed by a launch event in February, organised by Beverley Rhodes (pictured in the top right picture, environment projects officer for WildDerby, Regeneration and Community, Derby City Council, who not only gave a talk about the resources available to Derby Tree Wardens to record ancient and veteran trees but also provided home-made cake for a lovely lunch.

After Margaret Lipscombe of The Tree Council had outlined the options for running a network, volunteers decided to set themselves up as a constituted group, using the model Tree Warden constitution which is part of the toolkit on the website. They elected Kelvin Lawrence as the chair.

They also agreed that the initial focus would be on recording ancient and veteran trees and that they would be interested in hosting a regional forum – hence the event planned for Derby Arboretum in September.

The meeting finished with a tree identification game.

North Somerset Council is giving Tree Wardening a new lease of life in an area originally covered by the former Forest of Avon’s network – by calling for volunteers.

It has kicked off the process of starting its own network by encouraging all parish and town councils to appoint new local tree champions and holding a Q&A evening in June for existing or prospective Tree Wardens as well as interested council representatives. 

The idea is that those councils who don’t already have Tree Wardens should identify residents who might fit the bill, and those who do should consider looking for more to support existing volunteers.

At the Q&A evening, Jon Stokes of The Tree Council outlined the role of Tree Wardens. There was also an opportunity to meet the district council’s tree officers and established Tree Wardens.

Clevedon Tree Warden Angela Slotte brought  to the session a strangely deformed sloe fruit (see second picture).

It has since been identified as ‘pocket plum’, a fungal infection that affects fruit.

The plan is to launch the new North Somerset Network at an event on 10 September, when there will be an opportunity to explore some key tree issues, such as planting, legal protection and tree ownership.

“Our aim is for every parish and town to have its own active Tree Warden, with more in our urban areas,” said Ian Monger, senior tree officer with North Somerset Council.

There will be a number of training and awareness sessions in the first year, including tree planting, tree law, common diseases and winter tree identification.

Erewash revitalised its Tree Warden network in May when 10 volunteers from across the district gathered with Jaimey Richards, the tree officer, and Jon Stokes of The Tree Council for an initial training event.

Since then, the number of Tree Wardens in the network has risen to 27 and their next training session will be in September – on tree identification.

Issues covered at that first training event were planting in streets and parks, tree aftercare, planning and tree law.

This was followed in June by an opportunity to explore the rich variety of trees in the grounds of Trent College, Long Eaton. The visit was led by one of the Tree Wardens, retired science teacher David Pinney, who was Head of Biology at the school. The grounds are planted with an extraordinary range of trees, many rare and special, including a one-leaved nut pine (Pinus monophylla) - one of the few mature trees of this species in Britain (see third picture).