The Tree Council's Green Monuments Campaign is a concerted effort by the UK's lead tree campaigning partnership to gain special protected status for trees of great historical, cultural or ecological significance - heritage trees.
The Tree Council has brought together its member organisations to campaign for:
safeguards for green monuments
encouragement for custodians to look after them
support and advice on their care
Why the campaign is necessary
The value of trees of historical, cultural or ecological importance is already formally recognised in many countries. This is not the case in the UK.
In contrast to historic buildings, there are no legal safeguards specific to ancient trees or others of heritage significance. Many of them could be felled tomorrow without penalty. Such protection that does exist for historic trees is coincidental and not by design.
Often heritage trees survive today largely thanks to the individuals, past and present, who have cared for them. However, it takes only one person in the life of a tree to neglect, mutilate or destroy it.
The campaign so far
The Tree Council launched its Green Monuments Campaign in November 2003 when it outlined the weaknesses and shortcomings of existing provision for trees in a letter to Tessa Jowell, the then Secretary of State at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
The letter was written in consultation with many of The Tree Council's members in response to the consultation paper ‘Protecting our historic environment: making the system work better', part of the government's review of heritage protection.
A number of organisations are taking action to reinforce The Tree Council's Green Monuments Campaign:
Two Tree Council members, the Woodland Trust and the Ancient Tree Forum, along with the Tree Register of British Isles, have developed a provisional list of significant sites for internationally important ancient trees in lowland Britain and Ireland.
In April 2004 the Woodland Trust and the Ancient Tree Forum issued challenges to governments, organisations and individuals to help secure a future for ancient trees. With help of volunteers, they plan to produce a nationwide map of such trees.
How to support the campaign
To help raise awareness of the issues with politicians, you should write to your MP, saying how important you think heritage trees and The Tree Council's Green Monuments Campaign are. Please email or post a copy of that letter to The Tree Council at 71 Newcomen Street, London, SE1 1YT, so that we can demonstrate the level of support.
If you know of other ‘heritage trees' The Tree Council would like to hear about them.
Books on Heritage Trees
To raise awareness of the Green Monuments Campaign and demonstrate why it is so very necessary, two illustrated books, The Heritage Trees of Scotland and The Heritage Trees of Britain and Northern Ireland (out of print), have been published. By buying our publications through our website, you will support the work of The Tree Council.
The trees featured in the book benefit from sympathetic custodians so there is no suggestion that they are currently at risk.