As the end of the year nears, we want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last 12 months. Adding your voice to our campaigns, volunteering, donating and planting even just one tree makes a huge difference to the people and wildlife around us. We’ve achieved so much together this year. Here are some of the highlights.
Our osprey cam was a soaring success
Viewers around the world tuned into our osprey camera at Loch Arkaig to see Louis and Aila raise their chick, Lachlan. The ospreycam will return next year, thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and we’ll be watching closely to see if the birds return. Watch this year’s highlights here.
You dug deep for woods and trees
Our volunteer numbers have risen this year to over 2,600. We couldn’t do what we do without them and we’re so grateful for all their hard work. One of our goals for 2018 is to gain the Investing in Volunteers award, which will recognise our commitment to best practice when it comes to volunteering opportunities.
Members have increased to over 240,000 and every one of them plays a key role in helping us achieve our aims. To keep them all up to date on our progress, our membership magazine, Broadleaf, has also grown and is now sent out four times a year.
We gave ancient woodland a ray of hope
One of our biggest achievements this year has been the complete shift in government policy around protection for ancient woods and special trees. In February, the Government publicly acknowledged what we’ve been saying for years – planning policy is failing our most precious woodland habitats. Proposals to address this were put forward in the housing white paper, along with a specific pledge about increasing protection in the Conservatives’ election manifesto. This autumn you sent more than 15,000 emails and 600,000 words calling for better protection. We’re ready to make sure it happens.
You put trees at the heart of your communities
Thousands of you came together this summer and Invited a Tree to Tea, raising thousands of pounds to plant native trees and protect precious woodland for people and wildlife.
Our Street Trees project, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, launched this year. We’ve sent out 355 street tree celebration kits, spoken to 174 active street tree groups and answered calls for help on street tree issues, giving communities power to stand up for their street trees. Communities such as those in Sheffield continue to face a daily battle to prevent further felling of the trees they love. Having seen over 6,000 trees come down across their city, we stand with them in the fight to save such iconic trees as the Vernon Oak and the rare elm tree. Together we have prevented them from coming under the chop so far and we will continue to fight on in 2018 to try and keep them in their rightful place within the streets of Sheffield.
Congratulations to 488 schools for moving up a level on the Green Tree Schools Award, and welcome to 1182 new schools registered this year.
Citizen science was put under the microscope
We relaunched our Nature’s Calendar website, making it tablet and mobile friendly as well as more user friendly, so you can now record your observations quickly and easily, anytime, anywhere. A whopping 947 people have already registered on the new site.
Our Big Bluebell Watch returned for its second year. From wonderful ancient woods to your back gardens, over 20,000 of you recorded a massive 48,000 beautiful bluebells. The Big Bluebell Watch will return next year – let’s see if we can add even more records!
Hundreds of volunteers spent more than 13,000 hours monitoring tree pests and diseases for Observatree, the UK tree health early warning system led by partners including Forest Research, Forestry Commission England, National Trust and Woodland Trust. Over 3,000 site surveys were conducted, with 1046 spotting a tree pest or disease. We were delighted to win ‘Best Community/Volunteer Initiative’ at the 2017 Horticulture Week Custodian Awards. Partners have pledged to fund this important work for another three years.
We’ve sent over 80,000 seeds to the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew Gardens this year, helping to safeguard 15 native UK tree species from future threats and extinction.
You spoke up for woods and trees
Our campaigns team has been swamped with 245 new woods under threat cases this year and has had some brilliant successes - saving ancient woodland at Raithwaite plantation and Wanderwrang wood and also helping residents in Manchester stand up for their street trees. Your voice is crucial to these successes and more than 25,000 of you spoke up for woods and trees this year. Thank you. See how you could help us in the future.
Your generosity helped to raise £750,000 to buy a 116 acre extension to Hucking Estate in Kent, increasing the site to a massive 689 acres. We’ve spent 20 years transforming Hucking and this addition will make it even more special.
We had just two months to raise the extra £150,000 needed to buy 142ha Cefn Coch and your generous support helped us achieve this. The site is now called Bwlch Corog to more accurately describe the land, and led by Wales Wild Land Foundation, restoration will begin in 2018 with the planting of 5,000 native trees.
In August, we acquired the stunning Ballathie Bluebell Wood in Perthshire thanks to a gift in a supporter’s will. We aim to plant 34,000 native trees to expand and buffer this ancient woodland. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far we have raised approximately £140,000 of the £200,000 target.
We launched the Charter for Trees, Woods and People
We were so excited to launch the Charter on 6 November. 400 Charter Branches have been formed across the UK after you shared more than 60,000 stories with us to define the 10 Principles. The Charter now has over 126,000 signatures. Is yours among them? Read it, live by it and show your support by signing it.
We’ve been working to ensure a green Brexit
We’re working closely with other environmental organisations under the Greener UK banner to make sure that as we leave the EU, our environmental protections are at least as strong as before. We’re also campaigning for the new land use policy that will replace the Common Agricultural Policy to better incentivise landowners to plant trees. Good progress is being made and the Government has committed to consult on a new environmental protection body in the New Year.
Our Centenary Woods are taking shape
Our ambitious Centenary Woods plans made great progress this year. The four woods, one for each nation of the UK, mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War and contain over a million trees. Tens of thousands of trees have been planted across Brackfield Wood in Northern Ireland, Langley Vale Wood in England, Coed Ffos Las in Wales and Dreghorn Woods in Scotland in 2017.
At Langley Vale Wood, volunteers were excited to find the nationally scarce red hemp nettle has increased from one plant in 2014 to over 25 this year. We also planted the three millionth tree of our partnership with Sainsbury’s here – what a landmark! This special tree was planted to remember the many Sainsbury’s colleagues affected by the First World War.
Lottery windfalls gave trees a chance
We’re hugely grateful for a fantastic Heritage Lottery Fund award of £1.9m for our Smithills Estate project in Bolton. This takes us to an amazing £30 million in funding from players of the National Lottery over its lifetime. Ongoing support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery meant we received an amazing £2.4m in 2017, taking the total raised by players to date to £6.1m. Thank you so much.
And together we planted…
Together, we’ve planted a massive 2,214,795 trees this year. We gave people across the UK the chance to plant a seed, grow a tree and make a difference and 45,000 of you applied for a free pack of tree seeds. The results have been incredible. If you haven’t planted yours yet, now’s the perfect time.
Once again, a huge thank you to all of you for supporting us in 2017 – we really couldn’t do it without you.
We can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in 2018. In the meantime, we wish you a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Keep on standing up for trees and together, we can make a difference.