Douglas French, Chair
Previously a partner of Clifford Chance, the international law firm, Doug continues to be involved with his firm as trainer and mentor to young lawyers. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the Legal Advice Centre in Bethnal Green and a pro bono legal adviser.
Doug is a Founding Friend of The Tree Council and Life Member of the Woodland Trust and Royal Horticultural Society, as well as being an active volunteer gardener at Barnard Park in Islington. Alongside his love of trees and the natural environment, Doug’s other interests include Arsenal FC and football, having recently been appointed an FA Coach.
Elisabeth Hiester, Vice Chair
Elisabeth Hiester is particularly interested in the interaction of science, policy and law to encourage greater public engagement in tackling environmental damage. The individual and collective diversity and ubiquity of trees provide a unique opportunity for everyone to be involved. She has a diverse portfolio of legal expertise having headed up the international communications and technology practice as a Clifford Chance partner. Her energy was re-directed to environmental issues through studies at Writtle Agricultural College, an environmental law Masters degree at UCL and several years working on toxic chemicals regulation at ClientEarth. She teaches law at the University of Kent, actively supports its Law Clinic and is a Board Member of PEN International.
Jeremy Simons, Treasurer
Jeremy Simons has been an Elected Member of the City of London Corporation since 2004, taking an interest in the City's green spaces, the arts, education and environmental issues. He was the Chairman of the Management Committee for Hampstead Heath, which despite being a heath has over 10,000 trees and is now a member of the committee responsible for managing Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches. He helped his father plant a tree in 1973 and planted one more in 1974. He has a professional background in telecommunications, with considerable international experience and is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers and a trustee of a number of local charities.
Charles Colville was brought up in Suffolk surrounded by exceptional trees planted over the past two centuries and has loved trees ever since. Now domiciled in London, he is chairman of his communal garden where he takes great delight in the seven fully grown trees which he helps to nurture. As a documentary television producer, he has encouraged support and appreciation for our environment. Now also a Crossbench member of the House of Lords, he hopes to be able to use his position in support of protection for our tree populations. As a Trustee of The Tree Council, he strongly encourages the planting and nurturing of trees in both our cities and countryside.
Margaret Holland Prior
Margaret Holland Prior has a lifelong interest in woodlands and forests. Her work in environmental services embraces business development, campaigning, education and conservation with a focus on children and young people. She is a keen supporter of ex-Service personnel having horticultural therapy and of the promotion of land based careers.
Margie worked for the timber based firm, Mallinson-Denny Group, creating the slogan, ‘There is no timber without trees’. She was also involved with The Timber Trade Federation’s Forests Forever Campaign’, persuading timber importers to take up an Environmental Purchasing Policy.
Margie joined The Worshipful Company of Gardeners as an Apprentice when she was 17 years old, and in 2018 - 2019 she hopes she will become Master of that Company.
In 1992, The Forest Education Initiative (FEI) was formed to take children with their teachers into a woodland setting. Margie encouraged the early formation of FEI groups across England, Scotland and Wales, through which hundreds of ‘Forest Schools’ have now been established and continue to grow.
Tariq Ahmed is HR Director of London Business School. Tariq has a lifelong passion for the natural environment stemming from his early childhood growing up in the beauty and wildness of the Welsh landscape. From this early stage he has volunteered his time working with others to plant trees including as a child on his grandfather’s farm through Scottish Woodland, through to BTCV, Red Rose Forest and Forests for Community as a young adult. Through this experience Tariq has gained valuable insights into how environmental organisations function, including the value of outreach into schools and gaining the support of businesses and corporations.
Tariq has worked in senior positions in major global companies through to small entrepreneurial businesses. He has expertise in Communications, Sales and Consulting and is now focused in the field of HR and People Development. He brings a wealth of experience to The Tree Council along with a passionate commitment to trees.