A new campaign launched today is calling on people to share their stories of why trees and woods matter to them.
The stories will be collected together in a Charter for Trees, Woods and People and published in November 2017, 800 years after the original Charter of the Forests was signed by Henry III, restoring people’s rights of access to the Royal Forests.
The National Trust is one of 43 organisations involved in the campaign, led by the Woodland Trust.
At a time of unprecedented pressures on trees and woods, the charter will record the relationships between people and trees, setting out the enormous benefits woods provide the UK economy and society.
As a national charity caring for 25,000 hectares of woodland and thousands of ancient and veteran trees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, The National Trust has seen first-hand the impact of climate change and diseases like Ash Dieback.
But we also know from the millions of visitors to our woods, parks and gardens every year that people feel a real love for trees – and are fascinated by the stories of trees like the Dorset sycamore under whose branches the Tolpuddle Martyrs reputedly met or the majestic 1,000 year old Quarry Oak at Croft Castle in Herefordshire.
Ray Hawes, Head of Forestry at the National Trust, says: “How people value trees and woods is changing”, he says. “In the past they were valued mainly for the tangible products they provided, like timber and fuel.
“Today, many people say they love trees. Millions of people enjoy visiting woods in the UK without always realising the wider contributions that these places make to society as a whole and what needs to be done to maintain woods for future generations.
“Healthy woods have many uses and can be adapted to changing needs, but there are increasing challenges to maintain them in a condition which will enable this.”
By encouraging people to share why trees matter to them, the campaign launched today aims to capture the value of trees to people’s lives – as well as connecting people to the work that goes in to keeping our trees and woods healthy.
The campaign will recruit a network of local ‘Charter Champions’ from across the UK to represent their communities in the development of the charter. Funding will be available to help local groups in events and projects aimed at reconnecting people and trees.