Category Archives: Trees

Growing the Future: a policy perspective

Woodland Matters

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about the happy occasion of the 6 millionth tree of the Jubilee Woods project being planted at Ashburnham Primary School in London. This was done by HRH Princess Anne with the Prime Minister in attendance. 

One of the key messages we wanted to get across that memorable day, was the links between environmental education, a sense of well-being and the development of responsible future citizens with a strong sense of stewardship for the natural world. In fact, the enormous and obvious enthusiasm of the children for planting and making the most of their school grounds spoke for itself that day.

But its worth noting that there is plenty of evidence to back those links up.

For example, OFSTED’s 2008 study Learning outside the classroom: How far should you go?evaluated the impact of learning outside the classroom in 27 schools and colleges across England. This…

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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.”

 

Shocking declines in large old trees worldwide

Woodland Matters

Research from Spain and Sweden in Europe, Brazil, Australia, California and many other parts of the world, provides grim evidence of massive declines of some of the largest organisms on earth – old trees (Lindenmayer et all, Science vol 338 7 December 2012). If populations continue to collapse, as predicted, with them will also disappear the ecological, historic and landscape roles of these keystone structures that cannot be provided by younger trees. John Muir, founding figure of the conservation movement in the USA and a passionate advocate for the giant redwoods of Yosemite National Park (population decline of 24% between the 1930s and 1990s) is no doubt turning in his grave.

Why are large old trees disappearing? As individual trees they are exceptionally vulnerable to a wide range of impacts – intentional removal, new pests and diseases, root compaction and damage, fire and competition – to name a few…

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National Tree Week 2012

It’s National Tree Week and communities all over the country are being encouraged to celebrate the winter tree planting season by getting involved and doing something for the environment.

Every year, upward of half a million adults and children take part in thousands of events across the UK, arranged by The Tree Council‘s member organisations, many of its 8,000 volunteer tree wardens, local community groups and schools.

Most events involve tree planting, but many also use other ways of raising tree awareness such as woodland walks, tree identification tours, workshops, talks, tree surveys as well as Wood Fairs with woodturning demonstrations and storytelling. Many local authorities also give out free tree packs to those who wished to plant their own.

Launched in 1975, as a response to Dutch Elm Disease, the national week takes on special significance in 2012 because of the rapid spread of ash dieback, which is affecting increasing numbers of our ash trees.

The Tree Council’s Director-General, Pauline Black, said: “We couldn’t have foreseen that we’d be faced with the losses of ash dieback just as we go in to National Tree Week. But this seems a timely moment to ask the public to think carefully about what will happen to their view across the countryside and in their towns, and what they will do to restore it for future generations. Anyone with land of their own, whether it be a garden, woodland or field, can make a difference to their view by adding a tree.”