A legacy in the landscape

Since the Charter for Trees, Woods and People launched on 6 November 2017, beautifully carved poles fashioned from solid British oak have started to spring up at key sites across the UK. They convey a clear message: the Principles of the Tree Charter are out there to act as guides for society, and they must not be forgotten.

The charter was drafted with input from more than 70 organisations, and is underpinned by 10 Principles that were shaped by more than 60,000 stories. These stories were from people from all walks of life and revealed the important role trees have in improving people’s lives.

Simon Clements did a wonderful job carving the Charter poles (Photo: Matt Larsen-Daw)
Simon Clements did a wonderful job carving the Charter poles (Photo: Matt Larsen-Daw)

To keep the Tree Charter and its Principles in public consciousness, we need physical landmarks that reflect the fact that the Tree Charter is for every tree and every person in every part of the UK. One monument in one place would not do this, and that’s why we’re creating a Tree Charter Legacy Pole for each of the 10 Principles of the Tree Charter. These are located in a variety of sites across the UK that reflect the many different landscapes and communities improved with trees. A final ‘Champion Pole’ is already in place in Lincoln to mark the historic moment of the launch of the Tree Charter on the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest.

The poles are being created from Grown in Britain oak from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified Windsor Forest, carved by artist Simon Clements at the Sylva Wood Centre in Abingdon. Tree Charter steering group member Grown in Britain helped coordinate the sourcing of suitable timber for these historic monuments – you can read more here:

Crown to Carver 
Carver to Charter

For trees, woods and people: Sign the Charter

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Champion Pole, Lincoln

Featuring motifs drawn from the designs of all of the Principle Poles, this is the biggest of the poles at 18ft and currently stands proudly in Lincoln Castle, site of the launch of the Tree Charter and home to one of the last two remaining copies of the 1217 Charter of the Forest. The pole will be displayed in Lincoln Castle until spring 2018, when it will move to a permanent location in The Lawn in Lincoln. The poem carved around the Champion Pole is the couplet that opens the Tree Charter:

Natural treasures, in roots, wood and leaves, for beauty, for use, the air that we breathe.

Imagine: a wood starts with one small seed. We’re stronger together – people and trees.

- Harriet Fraser

Crowds surround the Champion Pole in Lincoln (Photo: WTML)
Crowds surround the Champion Pole in Lincoln (Photo: WTML)

Growing Forests of Opportunity & Innovation
Sylva Wood Centre, Abingdon

Unveiled on Saturday 18 November, this pole represents the important role of wood as a material and the livelihoods created through producing and working with it. Its design depicts sawn timber boards with sticks placed between them, in the way that a freshly-sawn trunk is processed to allow the boards to air-dry before being used by craftspeople.

To see the wood within the trees

and nurture both

is art and science

life cycling through earth, light and hands

a tender turning: work and beauty,

legacies growing

- Harriet Fraser

Before the unveiling, the sculpture was hidden under a silk ‘canopy’ made by local artist Jezella Pigott with help of local schoolchildren. The schools involved were Long Wittenham CofE primary school, and Willowcroft Community School in Didcot. The canopy was unwrapped by Woodland Trust CEO Beccy Speight, with the help of the children, to reveal the Charter Pole for the first time.

Sylva Foundation Pole (Photo Gabriel Hemery)
Sylva Foundation Pole (Photo Gabriel Hemery)

Recover health, hope & happiness with the help of trees

NHS Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool

Alder Hey is a unique hospital, with wings extending out into Springfield Park to ensure that every ward has a view of trees and greenspace. The park is managed by the NHS and over the coming years will be the site of innovative projects aimed at improving health through engagement with nature. No wonder that this park has been selected as the site of the pole that represents the important role that trees can and should play in supporting physical and mental health.

The carving on this pole provides a seed matching game to encourage young people and families to spend time outside exploring the woodland in the park.

To mark the launch of the charter and the installation of the pole, Alder Hey is currently running a tree-themed poetry competition and will exhibit the winning poems in the park.

All around us trees,

nature’s free prescription

to relieve stress, keep us strong,

help us heal in body and in mind.

walk, rest, breathe in clean air,

here among the trees

- Harriet Fraser

Celebrate the power of trees to inspire
Bute Park, Cardiff

Steeped in history and boasting numerous sculptures and installation artworks, Cardiff’s Bute Park is the perfect site for the pole that recognises the role trees have played in our cultural heritage, and the role they still play inspiring art, literature and community traditions today.

The pole, which bears a motif of tree leaves and open books, was unveiled on 25 November - the first day of National Tree Week 2017. To mark the day, poet Sophie McKeand recited poems inspired by the Tree Charter campaign and engaged visitors to the park in telling their stories about connection with trees.

Cofiwch eich gwreiddiau / we are the words in your lungs / dŵr ydych chi / your children are our future / ein cynhaliaeth / we cannot dream without you / plygu mewn rhisgl derwen a chariad
Which in English is:
Remember your roots / we are the words in your lungs / you are water / your children are our future / our life support system / we cannot dream without you / fold into oak bark & love.
- Sophie McKeand

Bute Park Charter Pole (Photo: Betina Skovbro)
Bute Park Charter Pole (Photo: Betina Skovbro)

Watch out over the coming months as the remaining seven poles appear in the landscape around the UK, and visit as many as you can to connect to the Tree Charter’s legacy for UK society.

For trees, woods and people: Sign the Charter

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