The Charter for Trees, Woods and People

On 6th November, a date that marks the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People will be launched. Read on to find out more, including the 10 principles of the Tree Charter and information on how to get involved.


Woodland Walk by Ted Rabbitts
Image by Ted Rabbitts via Flickr Creative Commons (CC by 2.0)

What is the Tree Charter?

Led by the Woodland Trust, the Tree Charter brings together more than 70 organisations in a united effort to protect the rights of and relationships between trees and people in the UK.

The Charter will be launched on 6th November at Lincoln Castle. This date marks the 800th anniversary of the historic 1217 Charter of the Forest which set out the rights of the people to use the Royal Forests in England. Lincoln Castle is home to one of the only two surviving copies of this document, making the timing and location of the launch doubly momentous.

The new Tree Charter is intended to influence policy and practice by settings out the practical roles and responsibilities of individuals, businesses and government in the UK and will also provide a voice for the hundreds of thousands of people that it represents.

The Charter consists of 10 Principles which cover different aspects of protecting and celebrating our trees. During National Tree Week (beginning Saturday 25th November) ten Tree Charter poles – one for each of the 10 Principles of the Charter – will be unveiled across the UK.

The 10 principles can be read in detail below, along with the locations of the charter poles.


The 10 Principles of the Tree Charter
(Reproduced from https://treecharter.uk)

1. Thriving habitats for diverse species (New Forest Visitor Centre)
Urban and rural landscapes should have a rich diversity of trees, hedges and woods to provide homes, food and safe routes for our native wildlife. We want to make sure future generations can enjoy the animals, birds, insects, plants and fungi that depend upon diverse habitats.

2. Planting for the future (Burnhall, Durham)
As the population of the UK expands, we need more forests, woods, street trees, hedges and individual trees across the landscape. We want all planting to be environmentally and economically sustainable with the future needs of local people and wildlife in mind. We need to use more timber in construction to build better quality homes faster and with a lower carbon footprint.

3. Celebrating the cultural impact of trees (Bute Park, Cardiff)
Trees, woods and forests have shaped who we are. They are woven into our art, literature, folklore, place names and traditions. It’s our responsibility to preserve and nurture this rich heritage for future generations.

4. A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK (Sylva Wood Centre, Abingdon)
We want forestry in the UK to be more visible, understood and supported so that it can achieve its huge potential and provide jobs, forest products, environmental benefits and economic opportunities for all.
Careers in woodland management, arboriculture and the timber supply chain should be attractive choices and provide development opportunities for individuals, communities and businesses.

5. Better protection for important trees and woods (Sherwood Forest, Nottingham)
Ancient woodland covers just 2% of the UK and there are currently more than 700 individual woods under threat from planning applications because sufficient protection is not in place.
We want stronger legal protection for trees and woods that have special cultural, scientific or historic significance to prevent the loss of precious and irreplaceable ecosystems and living monuments.

6. Enhancing new developments with trees (Belvoir Wood, NI)
We want new residential areas and developments to be balanced with green infrastructure, making space for trees. Planning regulations should support the inclusion of trees as natural solutions to drainage, cooling, air quality and water purification. Long term management should also be considered from the beginning to allow trees to mature safely in urban spaces.

7. Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees (Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool)
Having trees nearby leads to improved childhood fitness, and evidence shows that people living in areas with high levels of greenery are 40% less likely to be overweight or obese. We believe that spending time among trees should be promoted as an essential part of a healthy physical and mental lifestyle and a key element of healthcare delivery.

8. Access to trees for everyone (City Forest Park, Manchester)
Everyone should have access to trees irrespective of age, economic status, ethnicity or disability. Communities can be brought together in enjoying, celebrating and caring for the trees and woods in their neighbourhoods. Schoolchildren should be introduced to trees for learning, play and future careers.

9. Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management (Land Craigs)
Good management of our woods and trees is essential to ensure healthy habitats and economic sustainability. We believe that more woods should be better managed and woodland plans should aim for long term sustainability and be based upon evidence of threats and the latest projections of climate change. Ongoing research into the causes of threats and solutions should be better promoted.

10. Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees (Grizedale Forest, Cumbria)
Trees and woods capture carbon, lower flood risk, and supply us with timber, clean air, clean water, shade, shelter, recreation opportunities and homes for wildlife. We believe that the government must adopt policies and encourage new markets which reflect the value of these ecosystem services instead of taking them for granted.


How to get involved:

Firstly and most importantly – sign the Tree Charter. By adding your signature you will show your support for the principles stated in the charter and will join the growing list of 1000s of people who want to see trees protected, shared and celebrated in the UK. The Woodland Trust will plant a tree for every signature on the list and will also use your contact details to keep you up to date with the campaign.

• Use social media to spread the word. Use #TreeCharter, #StandUpForTrees and #CharterOfTheForest in your posts, and link to the Tree Charter Thunderclap: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/62126-the-tree-charter-is-launching

Join a local Charter branch. Join an existing group or, if there isn’t one near to where you live, set up your own. Charters can apply for funding from the Woodland Trust and will receive free copies of the seasonal newspaper LEAF! As a charter branch you will also be able to apply for a Legacy Tree. 800 of these trees are being planted around the UK as a living reminder of the 800 years between the original 1217 Charter of the Forest and the 2017 Tree Charter. Each tree will be supplied with a commemorative plaque.

Explore some of the locations on the Tree Charter Art and Heritage Trail. All locations are displayed on a beautifully illustrated map by Adam Dant, highlighting the role that trees have played in the culture and heritage of our country.

The Tree Charter Art & Heritage Trail - Illustrated by Adam Dant.
The Tree Charter Art & Heritage Trail – Illustrated by Adam Dant.

Woodland Reading:

Collins Tree Guide
Woodland Management: A Practical Guide
Winter Trees: A Photographic Guide to Common Trees and Shrubs
Trees: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Structure
Woodland Development: A Long-Term Study of Lady Park Wood
Oak and Ash and Thorn: The Ancient Woods and New Forests of Britain
The Company of Trees: A Year in a Lifetime’s Quest

Woodland Creation for Wildlife and People in a Changing Climate – reviewed in Antenna

“Its comprehensive coverage of the issues associated with woodland creation in Britain cannot fail to be of value”

Despite a slow increase in broadleaved woodland cover in Britain during the last 20 years, woodland species diversity is decreasing and woodland’s potential for enhancing our quality of life is unrealised. In view of the current public and political will to increase woodland cover in Britain, and the need to ensure that newly-created woodland is of the highest possible ecological quality, this book is most welcome.

It is a formal, often detailed and sometimes technical text aimed at countryside planners and practitioners, landowners, conservation organisations and community groups. Its entomological content is limited but, given the potential benefits of newly-created woodland and its associated habitats for so many insect taxa, it fully deserves a mention here.

The main text is divided into two parts. The first five chapters cover the general principles of woodland creation and provide necessary background to a consideration of woodland creation practice in the remaining four. Topics include an overview of woodland cover in Britain, some of the organisms that it supports and its importance for people. Issues associated with climate change and the planning, design and management of new woodland are also considered. Two case studies effectively draw together the various topics discussed in the text.

For invertebrates, the importance of woodland rides, glades and edges is emphasised, and the value of dead wood, neglected coppice and bramble is noted. A table lists invertebrate habitat in woodland. Butterflies receive the most detailed treatment. Survey and monitoring protocol is described and there are tables describing those species likely to occur in newly-created woodland, the colonisation potential of habitat specialists, and larval foodplants.

The book concludes with a useful glossary and lists of acronyms, species mentioned in the text and cited references. The latter represent a wide range of published and unpublished material. Unfortunately there is no index, and the list of species would be more valuable if page numbers referred the names to the text. Nevertheless this is an extremely useful and attractively presented handbook. It is generously illustrated with many figures and 170 images in full colour. Its comprehensive coverage of the issues associated with woodland creation in Britain cannot fail to be of value to its target readership. It also appears to be well-suited as a text for Further Education and foundation degree students studying countryside planning and land management. Certainly, many insects are likely to benefit from its sound advice.

Glenda Orledge,

Antenna – the journal of the Royal Entomological Society

Available Now from NHBS

Woodland Creation for Wildlife and People in a Changing Climate

Woodland Creation for Wildlife and People in a Changing Climate jacket imageThis lucid, beautifully illustrated and comprehensive guidebook is distributed by NHBS – both the authors are experts in habitat restoration and this publication is a significant contribution to approaching the challenges of woodland wildlife conservation in the 21st century.

Woodland Creation for Wildlife and People in a Changing Climate: Principles and Practice, written by David Blakesley and Peter Buckley, and sponsored by the RSPB, Woodland Trust and the Eden Project has recently been published. New native woodland has the potential to make a significant contribution to wildlife conservation in Britain, by supporting flora and fauna characteristic of both woodland and wider countryside habitat. For example, woodland creation provides opportunities for a number of strongly declining woodland birds characteristic of young woodland, such as tree pipit, willow warbler and garden warbler. The bird species benefiting from new woodlands will depend on a number of factors, such as the woodland type, stage of growth and location within the country. As new woodland matures it may be possible to maintain good populations of a number of woodland birds through coppice management or by providing scrub along rides and theImage from inside the bookwoodland edge.

Open habitats in woodlands are becoming increasingly important in a wider countryside context, with the loss of large areas of unimproved grassland, wetland and heathland. Rides and glades in new native woodland can support such communities, and act as stepping stones to facilitate the movement of species through often inhospitable agricultural landscapes. Even small fragments of open habitat in new native woodland can be important in their own right, supporting not just plants, but also a wide diversity of invertebrates, including many of the declining wider countryside butterflies such as small copper and small heath.

This book presents a comprehensive and extensively illustrated guide to the principles and practice of woodland creation. In the first part of the book, the issues underlying woodland creation projects are considered, such as the relevance of different woodland community types. The process of natural succession is described, illustrating the variety of wildlife that may colonise new woods, including birds, insects and plants. Ecosystem services provided by new woodland for people are examined, together with the threat of climate change, coping strategies for biodiversity, and the planning of woodland habitat networks and planting strategies.

Image from inside the bookIn the second part, detailed practical information for anyone creating woodland is presented, from the planning and selection of sites, sourcing of seeds and selecting tree species to woodland design, layout and management. The creation of woodland edge habitat and open ground communities is given particular prominence.

This book should appeal to anyone with an interest in creating new native woodland, planting trees or conserving woodland wildlife.

Buy your copy of Woodland Creation for Wildlife and People in a Changing Climate