This years’ Tree Warden forums have been focused on Tree Values. Valuing trees can mean many things to different people, from monetary value, to their value to society or the environment. During the forums we have been hearing about how we can better estimate the value of trees through measuring Carbon sequestering and by mapping trees through Treezilla, yet we all know that valuing trees goes beyond hard facts and numbers, important as they are. Throughout these forums, and for the ones yet to come, Tree Wardens have also been hearing about The Charter for Trees, Woods and People, a document that recognises there are many facets when it comes to valuing trees.
The new Charter for Trees, Woods and People is relevant for today and strongly focusses on the wellbeing, protection and promotion of trees. It’s a document that will become a benchmark for policy making, steering people in the right direction as they make tree related decisions. With trees at the heart of this document, it outlines the responsibilities that all UK citizens have when it comes to trees, from government organisations and businesses, to community groups and individuals.
The Charter’s foundation is set upon ten principles, each one supported by detailed articles. At The Tree Council’s annual Tree Warden Forums we explored how these principles can inspire new Tree Warden projects and be used to strengthen the Tree Warden voice and the voice of trees.
Split into small work groups, Tree Wardens examined one principle per group, brainstorming how it could apply to their own situation and developing a realistic project that they themselves could implement.
The outcomes of this exercise are really inspiring. Several Tree Wardens decided to bring The Charter to the attention of Local Councillors and Parish Councils, and have since done so. As a result, at least one Parish Council has now decided to make a commitment to becoming a Charter Branch. Additionally, another Tree Warden, and guest speaker for one of the forums, decided to explore The Charter principles to help develop the Suffolk County Council Tree Strategy.
Tree Warden, Nigel Boldero, had already planned a major project in Haveringland to plant a total number of 29 trees for an ‘Avenue of Remembrance’ at a church whose surroundings had once been woodland. In 1942 large areas of trees around this 14th century church were felled for the construction of an RAF airfield. The airfield closed at the end of the war and since then, the majority of the land was sold off for agricultural use. The landscape since 1942 has remained mostly devoid of trees.
Nigel’s planting project aims to help make the church grounds more attractive, increase habitats for wildlife, and also provide an opportunity to commemorate the airfield and all those who served and gave their lives in the war in the local area. Since learning more about The Charter, Nigel has decided to plant a Charter Legacy Tree alongside the other trees, and enlighten the other volunteers helping him on the day about The Charter and it’s principles.
Just from these few examples, it's easy to see how Tree Wardens have embraced The Charter and are finding ways to work with it, and have it work for them. In the next article to follow, we’ll take a closer look at a completely new project that was inspired out of The Charter workshops.