Feb 05 2019

New month, new Tree Charter principle!

The January blues are over and February is finally here! The New Year is typically seen as the best time for fresh insights and inspiration, but why limit ourselves to January 1st?


In the Tree Charter team we always like to feel inspired, and we’d like to inspire you too. To help staff and volunteers get more involved in our work to seed a new social movement around the Charter for Trees, Woods and People, which the Trust is leading forward, we’ll be focusing on each of its guiding Principles here. Month by month until November we will explore one of the Tree Charter’s ten principles. No prizes for guessing which principle we will focus on in November… celebrations for Tree Charter Day 2019 seem just around the corner already!


Our principle focus for FEBRUARY is all about ACCESS: making trees accessible to all.  As the nights begin to lighten and nature starts to make herself known again after a dormant winter, more folks are likely to feel like getting outside. So now is a great time to consider how accessible woods and trees can be to everyone in society (or not).


The charter says:

Trees offer shared experience to every age, religion and race. In woods people can work together, sharing experiences and learning from each other and their natural surroundings. Those who no longer move with ease can still find pleasure among the trees. Cheerful voices ring through leaves, from makeshift pitches and games of make-believe. There should be room for us all beneath spreading canopies.

There are ten articles in this Principle, which set out key changes which can further strengthen the relationship between trees and people:

  1. Help children build a connection with trees in school
  2. Support landowners to open their woods to people
  3. Involve communities in planting and managing trees and woods
  4. Identify and overcome barriers to accessing woods and trees
  5. Promote awareness of local opportunities to access woods and trees
  6. Promote diversity and inclusivity in forestry and arboriculture
  7. Support the creation of community woodland groups
  8. Implement a Woodland Access Standard
  9. Foster a love of trees and woods across society
  10. Safeguard the future of the Public Forest Estates

Everyone deserves to be able to visit and enjoy woods and trees near them; woods that are safe, welcoming, easy to get to, close and open to all. At a grassroots level, our Charter Branches across the UK are playing their part. Several groups are actively making local woods more user-friendly, including improving paths for wheelchair users; taking young people from deprived urban areas on trips to learn woodland skills; and fighting to protect trees in urban environments where this may be the only access some residents have to the benefits trees provide.


What can you do?

The new Tree Charter Toolkit gives tips and tools on how people can embody the principles of the Tree Charter – take a look at page 11 for guidance on improving ACCESS.  And you can read about the Principle in full here: https://treecharter.uk/principles-access.html.


You’re already doing it!

Although you might not realise it yet, with each ‘hat’ we all wear – colleague, volunteer, professional, friend, neighbour, carer, consumer – with just a few adjustments we can all bring the charter Principles to life. We’d love to hear about how you are embedding the principle of access – at work or at home!


Perhaps you know someone or a group that is also embodying this Principle? Email charter@woodlandtrust.org.uk or leave a comment below.


The Tree Charter Team


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