Category Archives: Trees

An epic story: Very Important Trees.

Woodland Matters

Nearly 1,000 years ago, the epic story of the build up to and successful invasion of Britain by William the Conqueror was captured on a length of embroidered cloth. There is much that we don’t know about this iconic piece of work, including who commissioned it. But looking closer, the Bayeux tapestry tells us much about trees.

I was recently invited to the heart of Normandy to give a presentation to the University of Paris, Summer School in Collonges about the iconography of the trees on the Bayeux tapestry.

According to Sylvette Lemagnen, one of the conservators of the tapestry,

“The Bayeux tapestry is one of the supreme achievements of the Norman Romanesque … Its survival almost intact over nine centuries is little short of miraculous … Its exceptional length, the harmony and freshness of its colours, its exquisite workmanship, and the genius of its guiding spirit combine to make it endlessly fascinating.”

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London Tree and Woodland Survey 2014

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The RELEAF London Partnership will undertake a new survey of London’s trees and woodlands this summer to establish the benefits they provide and put a value on them.

It will be the world’s largest urban forest survey and 200 volunteers are needed to take part. You will be out in the field for about four days, helping to protect the Capital’s woodlands for future generations by looking at and measuring tress across Greater London.

The volunteers will receive training in the use of the US Forest Service’s i-tree methodology and be accredited as an i-Tree Eco London 2014 surveyor. If you’d like to take part, contact Jim Smith at the Forestry Commission at jim.c.smith@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Green Film Festival tours the UK

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A still from The Last Catch. Pic: UK Green Film Festival

The UK Green Film Festival 2014 celebrates seven powerful environmental films that will tour the country from 1-8 June.

This year’s line-up includes international award-winning films, and explores some of today’s big environmental issues. The films will be screened in 17 venues in 15 cities across the UK, including Clapham, Greenwich and Hackney Picturehouses.

Seven feature length documentaries – including several UK premieres – from all over the world will be presented at the festival, all of which will be preceded by an accompanying short film. These include:

  • The Last Catch. A study of the tuna industry’s impact on both the fish and those who catch them.
  • Lost Rivers. An exploration of the subterranean network of rivers beneath London, Montreal, Toronto and Brescia that house the secrets of each city’s past.
  • A River Changes Course. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at Sundance 2013, chronicles the influence of rapid urbanisation on three families in Cambodia.

“Our aim is simple,” said the festival’s co-founder, John Long. “We want to help people understand their impact on the environment, and what they can do to reduce it. Film has the power to do that; to provoke thought, to inspire, and to entertain. That’s what the UK Green Film Festival is all about.” 

London Tree Week 2014

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London Tree Week starts today and the main focus is the Rooting for Trees exhibition in City Hall’s cafe.

This exhibition highlights why trees matter to Londoners. Photographer Emma Phillips worked with The Tree Council to produce images of Tree Wardens at various locations where they feel most strongly connected with trees. Each portrait offers a story about the importance of one, or many, trees. It also explores what motivates different people to plant, care for and help with the conservation of trees in their neighbourhood.

There will also be a series of free guided tree walks and other nature trails in various parts of town. You can take a tree walk around Abney Park Cemetery on 25 May, Upminster (25 May), Hyde Park (26 May), Kensington Gardens (27 May), Imperial War Museum gardens (29 May), Sydenham Hill  Wood (29 May), Bankside Urban Forest (30 May), Bloomsbury (31 May) and the National Gallery’s arboreal paintings.

The week is being organised as part of the Mayor’s RE:LEAF work to protect and increase the number of trees in London.

Woods for health

Woodland Matters

In an era of ever increasing concern about our nation’s physical and mental health, we strongly believe that trees and woodland can play a key role in delivering improved health & wellbeing at a local level. At the same time, the Health & Social Care Act 2012 has passed much of the responsibility for health & wellbeing to upper-tier and unitary local authorities.

Although the relationship between the natural environment and health is a complex one, it is now widely accepted that green infrastructure – such as trees, woods and forests – can help people feel better[i]. Increasing evidence shows how woodland can help encourage more active lifestyles and alleviate the symptoms of some of our most debilitating conditions such as dementia, obesity, heart disease and mental health problems.

This link between woodland and health is now firmly embedded in national Government policy for health, planning and forestry:

  • Health: “

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New early warning system to protect trees

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Tree health experts have secured nearly a million pounds of EU funding over four years to develop the  LIFE+ ObservaTREE, an early warning system of pest and disease threats to the UK’s trees.

Led by the research agency of the Forestry Commission, the project will help to identify tree health problems earlier, and enable members of the public and voluntary bodies to play a greater role in protecting woodland health by reporting incidents.

The UK has seen an increase in the incidence of new tree pests and diseases over the past decade, partly due to the expansion and globalisation of trade in live plants and wood products. Trade routes can act as pathways for the introduction of new pests and diseases, and ObservaTREE will enable vigilance for new threats to be stepped up. The project’s partners include the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), the Woodland Trust and the National Trust.

The Woodland Trust’s Dr Kate Lewthwaite said: “We are delighted to be part of this project and will recruit and train a network of volunteers and tree health ‘champions’ from a wide spectrum of backgrounds – from ordinary citizens to those already working in forestry, horticulture and arboriculture.

“These volunteers and champions will support Forest Research scientists by acting as a first line of response to reports of tree pests and diseases sent in by the public from their localities. They will do this by responding to, screening and helping to investigate reports of suspected pest and disease threats.”

Weird and wonderful whitebeams

Woodland Matters

With all the doom and gloom of Chalara ash dieback and other tree pests and diseases, it was encouraging to read this week that scientists have made a step forward in attempts to save Scotland’s most endangered tree, the Catacol whitebeam.

Sorbus pseudomeincichii was first recorded in 2007, with only two specimens found on the Isle of Arran, one of which has since died. Attempts to grow the tree, from seed, or to graft it onto rowan rootstock, met with failure, but now a plant has finally been grown from a cutting. Eventually, enough cuttings may be grown on to keep the lonely Arran tree company.

The UK’s native whitebeams are a funny collection of species. They include all 12 British native tree species recorded as endangered in the World Conservation Monitoring Centre’s List of Threatened Trees. Vulnerable to grazing, they’re found mostly in steep, inaccessible places, and are…

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