By Jessica Aldred
Conservation groups want a new national charter to save trees and woods from the ‘unprecedented threat’ of development, disease and climate change. A coalition of UK conservation groups is calling for a new national charter for trees, woods and people.
Woodland in Kent. Trees risk being ‘neglected, undervalued and forgotten,’ campaigners say. Photograph: Organics image library/Alamy
Led by the Woodland Trust, 48 conservation and cultural groups have launched a campaign for a new charter in 2017, the 800-year anniversary of the signing of the original Charter of the Forest by Henry III. This protected and restored the right of people to access and use the royal forests - crucial at the time for grazing livestock, collecting firewood and foraging for food. The coalition says it is time for a new charter, as woods come under “unprecedented threat” from development, pests and disease and climate change and trees risk being “neglected, undervalued and forgotten”.
Community groups, clubs, councils and committees are being encouraged to feed into the building of the charter. To kickstart the campaign, people across the UK are being urged to share their “tree stories” of treasured or significant moments that would not have been possible without trees.
A new, broader charter would recognise the importance of trees in 21st-century British society, celebrate their enormous contribution to public life, and ensure future generations could benefit from them by ensuring access to nature and protection of ancient woodland and other habitats, its backers argue.
It would also cover forestry, the value of trees and woods in terms of finance and other benefits to people, the importance of new planting and making sure landscapes are resilient to the threats they face, they say.