News from the 2011 Forums

The value of the ‘urban forest’ was a common focus of this year’s regional Tree Warden forums. There were also presentations to help Tree Wardens apply for funding offered nationally by Defra’s Big Tree Plant.

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Keith Sacre of Tree Council member Barcham Trees spoke on the ‘Forest where you live’ at most of the forums. He demonstrated the many benefits of trees in cities, including evidence from the USA that for every $1 spent on tree planting, $6 of benefit could be shown in air pollution removal, carbon storage and slowing the passage of rainwater.

Also at each forum, Tree Council programme director Jon Stokes outlined significant developments during the year, such as the UK National Ecosystem Assessment which values the ‘services’ provided by the environment (, the England Biodiversity Strategy ( and the Localism Bill (

The first of the forums, organised by the Cotswold network, saw Tree Wardens from across the West Midlands gathering in Gloucestershire.

Speakers included Mark Connelly from the Cotswold Conservation Board on the role of trees in defining the view. He showed that an understanding of the system of Landscape Character Assessment was invaluable for Tree Wardens because it underpins many of the planning strategies used by various agencies. See

In the afternoon, Tree Wardens visited the gardens and woods of The Earl of Weymss’s stunning Stanway Estate, guided by Will Wilkinson, who manages the estate’s trees.

The East Midlands forum, organised by Derby Tree Wardens, attracted people from as far afield as Wakefield.

It was held in Derby Arboretum – England's first public ‘park’, created by John Loudon 170 years ago and recently rejuvenated through a major restoration project, as Jonathan Oakes of Derby City Council explained.

It proved the perfect place to look at planting trees in urban spaces.

Louise Valantine of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust outlined a project for the county’s veteran trees, which include Betty Kenny’s Tree, once occupied by her family and the origin of the “rock-a-bye-baby” nursery rhyme.

South Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire District Councils joined forces to host the East Anglia Forum, which opened with the planting of a new community orchard at the venue – Sawston Village College.

Arboricultural consultant Stephen Hayden emphasised the importance of looking at shapes, forms and requirements to ensure that the right tree is picked for the right space. Little Downham Tree Warden Keith Norton talked about his local community orchard. Also on the agenda was planting trees on the highway.

The South East Forum was hosted by West Sussex County Council to mark 20 Years of Tree Wardening in the county.

A commemorative tree was planted by (l to r in above picture forth down) the council’s leader, Louise Goldsmith, West Sussex Tree Warden Amanda Apps and Tree Council director-general Pauline Buchanan Black. 

Amanda later shared her five top tips for being a Tree Warden. Top of the list is “Keep calm, and carry on”.

Fellow speakers included Guy Watson from the Arboricultural Association on the issues trees face underground. He revealed that recent research has shown that two teaspoons of sugar in a watering can of water are extremely beneficial to newly planted trees.

In the afternoon Tree Wardens looked at planting trees in streets and growing hedges for food (

The final forum of the year took place at the beautifully restored Devonport Guildhall and was organised by the Plymouth Tree Wardens.

Topics included the practicalities of street tree planting and Trees and the View, with Kevin Frediani from Paignton Zoo outlining some of the rules of designing with trees.

Plymouth Tree Warden Neil Cumming then outlined his network’s experience of organising a street tree planting (the topic of the new section for the Tree Warden Handbook. He also told of their successful application for a grant of £48,000 from the Big Tree Plant fund.