In 1217 the Charter of the Forest was signed, which set down rights for people to access the benefits of the woods, trees and grazing lands of the Royal Forests in England. 800 years on, we want to write a document which will help us protect our trees and woods for the next few hundred years.
The idea for a Tree Charter was born when the UK Government tried to sell off some of the Public Forest Estate in England in 2010. There was a huge public outcry which revealed the connection people feel to the woods and trees of the UK, a connection that is rarely visible. We want to bring the discussion of the importance of woods and trees to people back to the forefront of public consciousness.
Therefore the Tree Charter project is two-fold. Firstly, we aim to write the actual Tree Charter document, but secondly, we want to engage people with the value of trees and woods, and the issues they face. To create the Tree Charter, we have been collecting ‘stories’ from people across the UK about what trees and woods mean to them. These tree stories, along with specific consultations with forestry and sector professionals, will enable us to get a clear idea of the value of trees and woods to the UK. Our partner organisations, each experts in their own fields, will use the stories, along with their own knowledge, to write the content of the final Tree Charter.
To engage the public with the word of the Tree Charter, we have a network volunteer groups, called Charter Branches, around the UK. There are now 197 Charter Branches, who are helping us to raise awareness of the Tree Charter campaign. Until February 2017 they were helping us to collect stories for the Tree Charter public consultation. But from now (March 2017) until the launch of the Tree Charter in November 2017, our Charter Branches will be holding a series of events around the UK, to celebrate trees and woods, and engage the public with the message of the Tree Charter.
From now, the end of March, we are asking people to sign the Tree Charter to show support for their woods and trees. For every signature of support, a tree will be planted. We have several celebrities who are supporting the Tree Charter campaign. They have produced a set of animation videos, which encourage people to sign the Tree Charter. You can see the first, by Chris Packham here https://youtu.be/Prn-VUy_-Es
The Tree Charter will consist of a set of 10 guiding Principles, a document which can be used to hold politicians, community groups and organisations to account, backed up by the body of evidence of thousands of public stories. We need this Tree Charter because we want to demonstrate the value of trees and woods to UK society. In a world where trees are ever-threatened by many factors, we need to start protecting our vitally important trees and woods.
Show your love for trees: sign the Tree Charter.
Project Officer, Woodland Trust
Find the Woodland Trust on Twitter @WoodlandTrust
The opinions expressed in this blog are the author’s and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership
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