Braintree celebrates 25 years of Tree Wardening during National Tree Week
With ice crunching under foot and snow threatening, Tree Wardens of Braintree braved the chilliness to plant a tree during National Tree Week. This was no ordinary tree planting, as this tree marked the 25th anniversary of the Tree Warden Network of Braintree.
As a relatively new member of staff for The Tree Council, it was an absolute privilege to be asked to say a few words at the event and help the volunteers celebrate this milestone. Braintree’s Network was amongst the first Tree Warden Networks that developed across the country and so, I thought that a little digging of my own was in order, to see how these networks arose.
If you’ve been a Tree Warden for just a short time, you might not know that the idea of the Tree Warden Scheme blossomed out of tragedy.
Back in the Autumn of 1987 the worst storm in living memory in the UK devastated England, and hit with particular ferocity in the south and east of the country. The force of the storm killed 18 people in England, with another 4 in France. The hurricane-like winds brought power lines down, cut electricity and caused train and ferry travel to come to a grinding halt.
Astonishingly, the storm, in just a matter of hours, tore down over 15 million trees. 15 Million!
Revisiting the news reports about that storm, I found photo after photo of trees brought down over cars, roads and into houses.
Braintree lost an enormous number of trees and the clean-up task must have been daunting. But this is where people come into their own and great things are borne out of adversity.
Out of this disaster, people across the country started to come together to discuss what lessons could be learnt and how to go about replacing the lost trees, and it was The Tree Council that led the way. The Tree Council saw how people were ready to roll up their sleeves to help re plant trees, and the idea of Tree Wardens was created.
One of the first to roll up their sleeves was Melvin Crowe, from Braintree and together with The Tree Council, set up one of the first Tree Warden Networks in his local area. He was so good at it, and so passionate about his local trees, that he was invited to join The Tree Council's steering committee to help build, shape and influence new Tree Warden Networks Nation-wide.
Throughout these pioneering years, the Tree Wardens of Braintree cleaned up the mess left by the storm and with enduring determination replanted many trees, year in, year out. Sadly, Melvin has since passed away, but the excellent work that Braintree’s Tree Wardens do, continues, 25 years later.
Out of great tragedy this, and many other Tree Warden Networks were born, and 25 years later the Tree Warden legacy is still growing strong. The next 25 years will also be challenging with the very real issue of Ash Die Back, however as The Tree Council has seen in the past, the very best in people will shine through to protect and nurture England’s wonderful trees.
To the Tree Wardens of Braintree, and to all Tree Wardens across the UK, thank you!