Nov 07 Launching the Tree Charter By Judith

It was great to celebrate the launch of the Charter for Trees Woods and People at Lincoln this week. More than 70 organisations have worked for two years under the leadership of the Woodland Trust to create a new tree charter that aims to put protection for trees and woodlands at the heart of government environmental policy and to celebrate the role that trees play in all our lives.

The launch coincided with the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, the world’s first piece of environmental legislation and a vital successor to Magna Carta. In the 13th century the royal forest covered nearly a third of southern England, and the rights of the common people to gather firewood, hunt or graze their livestock were severely restricted. The Forest Law, introduced by William the Conqueror, and extended by his successors was, unsurprisingly, deeply unpopular.  Infractions were punishable by brutal corporal punishment, imprisonment or death. The 1217 Forest Charter restored the rights of freemen to access and use the forests for gathering firewood and grazing.

The Charter of 2017 has ten principles and SWOG is proud to have played a part in contributing to it. Small woodland ownership is covered in the principle, ‘Grow forests of opportunity and innovation’, which is dedicated to the forestry industry and the sustainable management of woodlands. The final clause is the key one:

Encourage and support sustainable woodland management
‘The majority of woodland in the UK is privately owned, and the way it is managed has an impact on the national economy and environment. Policies around woodland ownership should encourage sustainable management practice and cooperation between owners and managers of woods, in order to ensure quality and consistency of woodland management across the landscape.’

The Charter is a reminder that trees are a vital part of life for all of us: the environmental benefits of trees are well known, studies have proved that time spent in woodlands is good for our health, and woodlands and forest are vital habitat. Forests and trees are celebrated in cultures around the world and trees have inspired artists and writers for centuries.

The Charter is intended to inform legislators and to promote woodlands, forests, timber and woodland crafts. Eleven charter poles will be installed in locations around the UK and Tree Charter Day will be celebrated on the last Saturday in November with ‘events that celebrate and reinvigorate the relationship between people and trees’.

We’re delighted to support it and we hope you will too, by signing the Charter.

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