Category Archives: Trees

An epic story: Very Important Trees.

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

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

Growing the Future: a policy perspective

Welsh charity hits £2m rainforest target

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Welsh campaigners have protected an area of rainforest the size of Wales (that’s 2 million hectares), after they hit their £2m target yesterday, St David’s Day.

The Size of Wales charity was launched in 2010 to bring everyone in Wales together as part of a national response to climate change, and the conservation projects that will benefit include:

  • An RSPB project in Sierra Leone’s Gola rainforest.
  • A project to help the Ashaninka people to preserve forest in Peru.
  • A new legally protected area in Madagascar. Funds here will pay for a sustainable forestry management, educating people to understand the risks of overexploitation, and strengthening land rights.

The charity will now focus on encouraging other countries to set up similar initiatives.  The Welsh Environment Minister, John Griffiths, said: “I am very proud of Wales. We are the first country in the world to help to protect an area of tropical forests equivalent to its own size and I am calling on other countries to follow our lead – for the benefit of our climate, our forests and the wildlife and people that depend upon them.”

Denmark is considering launching a tropical forest initiative equivalent to its size (4 million hectares) and Ireland has launched the Size of Phoenix Park project as a first step in improving tropical forest protection.

England’s forests saved from private ‘sell off’

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There is a great deal of relief after the Government has shelved controversial plans to sell off England’s publicly owned woodlands to the private sector. The    u-turn was made after 500,000 people signed an online petition against the unpopular proposal.

Speaking last week, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson announced that the nation’s public forests would remain publicly owned and held in trust for future generations by a new public body. “I want to put the future of our public forests on a clear and firm footing,” he said. “Our forests and woodland will remain secured in public ownership for the people who enjoy them, the businesses that depend on them and the wildlife that flourishes in them.”

The Forestry Commission will be given extra funding of £3.5m this year to make up for not selling forestry land and an additional £2m has been found  to help the commission deal with ash dieback.

Hen Anderson, of campaign group Save Our Woods, welcomed the Government’s response, saying it was vindication of the 500,000 who signed the online petition. “Very positive,” she said. “Two years ago they were flogging off the lot, but a half a million people kicked them in the pants.”

But some charities have criticised the lack of any timetable for setting up the new trust body and said the important work carried out by the Forestry Commission remained endangered by heavy budget cuts.

The RSPB said: “While these proposals are encouraging, they won’t help if our woodlands are starved of funding and effective management in the long term.”