Calls for new charter for trees

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The Woodland Trust is leading 48 organisations in a campaign to celebrate the value of our trees and woods and secure their future by creating a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

The new charter, which will be launched in November 2017, marks 800 years since Henry III signed the original Charter of the Forest. This influential charter protected and restored the rights of people to access and use the Royal Forests.

With our nation’s trees and woods facing unprecedented pressures from development, pests and diseases as well as climate change, the fear is they risk being neglected, undervalued and forgotten.

Recognising the importance of trees in our society and celebrating their enormous contribution to our lives, will be important aspects of the new charter, a broader charter that acts now so that future generations can benefit from them too.

The charter will provide guidance and inspiration for policy, practice, innovation and enjoyment and will articulate the relationship between people and trees in the UK in the 21st century. Local groups, clubs, councils and committees will be encouraged to take part by bringing people together to celebrate the woods and trees at the heart of their communities and help feed ideas and stories into the building of the charter.

‘Charter Champions’

The 48 Charter Steering Group organisations are looking to recruit local ‘Charter Champions’ who will ensure their community is represented in this ambitious project. Guidance and inspiration is being provided during the campaign to inspire and support local activities and help people create a lasting legacy in communities across the country.

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Woodlands at NT Cragside, Northumberland ©Reckless Gardener

Funding will be available for local events and projects that reconnect people and trees.

Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust CEO points out that the collective ambition for a charter that puts trees back at the heart of our lives, communities and decision making making, where they belong: “The charter will provide guidance and inspiration to allow us all to appreciate, preserve and celebrate our trees and woods for what they do for us in so many different ways,” she says. “Inspired by something that happened 800 years ago, there is no better time than now to shine the spotlight again on the benefits that trees and woods bring to us all today and to future generations.

With changing lifestyles, busy schedules and increased ‘screen-time’, more people feel disconnected from nature and what it does for us. These are just some of the reasons a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People is needed now.

Trees and woods are hugely valuable for our health and happiness and for our children’s development. The State of Nature report shows 60% of woodland wildlife species surveyed are in decline across the UK. In addition, habitat loss, through development and more intensive land use have contributed to increasingly fragmented habitats and species decline. Research for the Woodland Trust by Europe Economics found that woods and trees deliver £270bn worth of benefits to society. This makes the call for a charter more important than ever.

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