Monday, 27 March 2017

The Charter for woods, trees and people - Being a Charter Champion

Woodland Wonder

Everyone loves trees right? They are beautiful, stunning, ancient, environmentally essential and take minutes to destroy hundreds of years of growth.

I live next to woods which are beautiful, old and home to special birds such as March Tit and Tawny Owls, which in winter sometimes venture down to our garden. I also regularly hear the calls of Tawny Owls as I lie in my bed. How special is that?

It's easy to worry about deforestation abroad but to forget that we are not protecting our own trees and woods enough.

So why is it that our trees don't have proper protection? I live in an area of outstanding beauty where trees are meant to be protected as if they have a tree conservation order on them.

Yet, we've had an unscrupulous builder buy a house in our beautiful lane next to ancient woods, cut down two huge old trees hoping nobody would catch him and was only stopped by neighbours. More than eighteen months on, the trees haven't been replaced and he is able to apply to planning without complying with an order to replant the trees. The law seems ridiculous to me and we need to make sure that people who cut down trees to get around planning regulations should be fined and stopped from applying for planning in the places that the trees use to be, otherwise they benefit from their crime.

I really hope the new tree charter makes the difference.  It is for that reason that I am a charter champion.

Stumps of cut down tree next to one that is left of the same maturity

The Charter for woods, trees and people

Led by the Woodland Trust, more than 70 organisations from across multiple sectors are working together to create a Charter that will guide policy and practice in the UK. They believe the people of the UK have a right to the many benefits brought by trees and woods.

On 6 November 2017, the 800th anniversary of the influential 1217 Charter of the Forest, they will launch the Charter for Trees, Woods and People. They believe the people of the UK have a right to the many benefits brought by trees and woods. The new charter will recognise, celebrate and protect this right.

The Tree Charter will draw its strength from the hundreds of thousands of people across the UK that sign. Please sign the tree charter today

The Issues:
Why do we need trees? 
Trees and woods are hugely valuable for our health, happiness and our children’s development 
Our woodland heritage is even richer and internationally more significant than we realised. 
The UK is one of the top consumers of wood products in the world 

They provide: 
Clean air 
Natural flood defences 
A mask for noise 
Improved physical health and mental well-being 
Cooling urban areas 
Pollution absorption 
Wildlife habitat 
Recreational spaces 
Contact with nature 
Sensory outdoor learning resources 

What are the threats? 
Infrastructure development (building homes, railways and roads) 
Pollution and climate change (changing weather and temperatures are challenging for trees) 
Pests and diseases (increasing all the time – whole species such as Ash could be lost if not helped) 
Lack of protection for ancient woodland in planning policy (UK has just 2% ancient woodland cover, yet more than 500 ancient woods are under threat) 
60% of wildlife species are in decline across the UK 
Decline in enrolments in forestry education (lack of awareness of forest jobs in young people) 
Big trees dying of old age but not being replaced (especially in cities) 

These are The Tree Charter Principles announced today.

We believe in:

Thriving habitats for diverse species
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. 

Planting for the future
As the population of the UK expands, we need more 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.

Celebrating the cultural impact of trees 
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. 

A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK
We want forestry in the UK to be more visible, understood and supported so that it can achieve its huge potential and provide jobs, environmental benefits and economic opportunities for all.

Careers in woodland management, arboriculture and the wood supply chain should be attractive choices and provide development opportunities for individuals, communities and businesses.

Better protection for important trees and woods
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. 

Enhancing new developments with trees
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.

Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees 
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.

Access to trees for everyone
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. 

Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management
Good management of our woods and trees is essential to ensure healthy habitats and economic sustainability. We believe that more woods should be taken into management and plans should 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.

Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees
Trees and woods capture carbon, lower flood risk, and supply us with 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.

Help shape the future: 

Add your voice to the Tree Charter and help create a future in which trees and people stand stronger together: Sign the charter and they'll plant a tree

About the Author

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig in Antarctica
Photograph copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Mya-Rose Craig is a 14-year-old young British Bangladeshi birder, naturalist, conservationist, environmentalist, activist, writer and speaker. She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She loved seeing Mountain Gorillas in East Africa and Penguins in Antarctica over Christmas 2015, her 7th continent.

Mya-Rose was a Bristol European Green Capital Ambassador along with Kevin McCloud, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Tony Juniper, Simon King, Miranda Krestovnikoff and Shaun the Sheep! See the full list of Bristol Ambassadors. She has also been listed with the singer-songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people. She
 is an Ambassador for World Shorebirds Day, See It Her Way and a Charter Champion for The Charter for Woods, Trees and People. She organised a conference, Race Equality in Nature, in June 2016 aiming to increase the ethnic diversity in nature. She has also set up Black2Nature with the aim of working with organisations to increase the access to nature of BAME people. Please connect with her on LinkedIn (Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig) so that she can invite you to join the Race Equality in Nature LinkedIn Group and be part of the change. Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. I love this. Thank you for sharing. We run a small community woodland group in Llangattock, in the Brecon Beacons so not so very far from you. If you ever wish to visit our small, but important woodland just get in touch.


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