Pilot Advisory Group kicks off with first meeting
On 19th March, the Tree Warden Scheme Pilot Advisory Group met for the first time at the Skip Garden in King’s Cross, London.
The Pilot Advisory Group aims to bring together representatives from every region to discuss how to further develop the Tree Warden Scheme. The first meeting opened with the members of the PAG describing their networks and setting the scene for their region. It was clear that we were in experienced hands with members sharing nearly 200 years of tree wardening between them! Many members had started to reach out to their Deputy representatives and other tree wardens and co-ordinators from different parts of their region to hear how things were going for them. It was so valuable having everyone around a table as although every network had a very different make up and circumstances, many regions seemed to have similar challenges including local authority funding cuts leading to fewer or overstretched Tree Officers, many areas with no tree warden coordinators present, a lack of coordinated training opportunities for TW and trees facing constant threats by developments. We were delighted to hear of some really positive initiatives too including the development of young tree warden schemes, the management of at-risk woodlands and orchards by Tree Warden groups and some fantastic community involvement initiatives.
The afternoon discussion focussed on broad topics including ways of growing communication between Tree Warden groups and The Tree Council, raising awareness and sharing details of the activities of the Tree Warden networks, and celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the Tree Warden Scheme in 2020.
Sara Lom, The Tree Council CEO, gave an overview of The Tree Council's current work, highlighting the three key strands of people, pests and diseases and partnerships which we are focussing on at the moment. The group were also invited to select the first three objectives they would like to focus on as a group on behalf of Tree Wardens - these were:
- Provide a route for Tree Wardens and Co-ordinators to contribute to national thinking on trees
- Improve support for the national Tree Warden Scheme, including more training (face-to-face and on-line) and new resources
- Improve communication between The Tree Council and the Tree Warden Network – as well as between the individual groups – creating a family with a strong identity and unified brand.
The meeting closed with a discussion on grants and fundraising opportunities, as well as the current work of understanding the prevalence and use of tree strategies around the country.
With threats to trees at an all-time high, it is clear that a strong and active Tree Warden scheme is needed now more than ever. The Tree Council is committed to investing in the scheme and supporting the thousands of selfless volunteers dedicating their time to caring for and standing up for the nation’s treescape. We look forward to working with Tree Wardens across the country to make a difference for the future of Britain’s trees.
The Tree Council team would like to thank the members of PAG for their time, enthusiasm and valuable contributions made at the first meeting. PAG members will continue to share updates with their regions over the coming year.