A new Charter for Trees, Woods and People

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The Brimmon Oak, Newtown

The Brimmon Oak, Newtown, Powys. Seven years ago, it was almost cut down to make way for the Newtown Bypass (Image: TAW)

Celebrate the value of our trees and woods and secure their future. When you sign, a tree is planted…

Sarah Rouse, Tree Charter project officer at the Woodland Trust, explains the campaign calling for a Charter for Trees, Woods and People and the importance of recognising the value of trees.

The Woodland Trust is leading over 70 organisations in a campaign to celebrate the value of our trees and woods and secure their future by creating a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People. Launching on the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, this new Tree Charter will recognise and celebrate the rights of the UK public and their trees and woods.

The Tree Charter is being written using the evidence of 60,000 tree stories, collected from the UK public, about what trees and woods mean to them. This, together with the expert knowledge of our partner organisations, will form the content of the final Tree Charter. The Tree Charter will draw its strength from the hundreds of thousands of people across the UK that sign to show support for the Principles.

These stories and signatures of support have been in part collected by our network of volunteer groups across the country, called Charter Branches. Some Charter Branches were existing groups with some form of community or nature- related focus and some were set up just for the Tree Charter campaign. We have over 350 Charter Branches now, all of whom have one main aim- to connect people and trees.

The Ankerwycke or Magna Carta yew near Runnymede

The Ankerwycke or Magna Carta yew near Runnymede, Windsor is one of the Woodland Trust’s top 10 trees in England and is thought to have witnessed signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Photograph: Oxford Scientific/Getty Images

The Tree Charter Principles

In March 2017, we announced the 10 Principles of the Tree Charter, which were established from the analysis of the tree stories from the UK public. From this moment onwards, we have been asking people to sign to show support for the Tree Charter. We currently have had over 81,500 people sign to show support for the Tree Charter!

The Tree Charter Principles

We believe in:

  1. Thriving habitats for diverse species
  2. Planting for the future
  3. Celebrating the cultural impact of trees
  4. A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK
  5. Better protection for important trees and woods
  6. Enhancing new developments with trees
  7. Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees
  8. Access to trees for everyone
  9. Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management
  10. Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees
Newton’s apple tree

Newton’s apple tree, Woolsthorpe Manor, Lincolnshire. Photograph: Ann Moynihan/National Trust

What do the Tree Charter Principles mean for us?

We want the principles set out in the Tree Charter to articulate the relationship between people and trees in the UK in the 21st century. The Tree Charter will provide guidance and inspiration for policy, practice, innovation and enjoyment. The Tree Charter project is all about connecting people and trees, which means redefining the everyday benefits that we all gain from woods and trees in our lives, for everyone, from Government to businesses, communities to individuals. Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust CEO said:

“800 years since the Charter of the Forest, the public, together with the organisations involved will create a new way forward for the future of  trees and woods. We hope that the Tree Charter will shine a way forward to create a brighter future for words and trees for the next 800 years.

“Our collective ambition is for a charter that puts trees back at the heart of our lives, communities and decision making -where they belong. The charter will provide guidance and inspiration to allow us all to appreciate, preserve and celebrate our trees and woods for what they do for us in so many different ways. Inspired by something that happened 800 years ago, there is no better time than now to shine the spotlight again on the benefits that trees and woods bring to us all today and to future generations.”

Shugborough yew

Shugborough yew, Staffordshire. Photograph: Andy Holy/Woodland Trust

Tree Charter Legacy

As a legacy in the landscape for the Tree Charter, there will be 11 Charter marker poles. These huge carved monuments will represent the 10 Principles, and one for the Tree Charter overall, the Champion Pole. The Champion Pole and Tree Charter will be unveiled in Lincoln Castle on the 6th November. The other 10 Poles will be unveiled at regional celebration events around the UK during National Tree Week (the 25th November- 3rd December).

As a living legacy in the landscape, we are giving away 800 community marker trees, due to the significance of the 800 years since the Charter of the Forest was signed. These will be offered to Charter Branches, groups  and organisations who show support for the Tree Charter, and will be delivered in time to plant during National Tree Week (25th November – 3rd December 2017). Find out more about legacy trees here.

How can you help?

Individuals and organisations are being encouraged to sign up to the 10 Principles to show their support for trees and woods.   The Tree Charter will draw its strength from the number of signatures collected.

So, be a part of this historic moment, sign the Tree Charter and we’ll plant a tree in the UK

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