Campaigners gather at threatened Shorne and Ashenbank Woods

22 July 2022

Last week, we joined with other NGOs, local campaigners and woodland rangers for a walk around Kent County Council’s Shorne Woods and our own Ashenbank Wood site.

Shorne and Ashenbank Woods are at risk from the Lower Thames Crossing road scheme. The project threatens the important ancient woodland, veteran trees and iconic wildlife in the area.

The walk was an opportunity to share knowledge, experience the rich diversity of wildlife and strengthen our shared determination to protect these precious woods.

Our assessments of the proposals indicate that several hectares of ancient woodland and as many as 10 veteran trees could be lost, but the true impacts of the Lower Thames Crossing are simply not yet clear. Despite being home to nationally important wildlife and its designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, National Highways has so far chosen not to disclose any real details of impacts.

The latest consultation closed in June 2022, but you can still take action by emailing your concerns to your councillor, MP and National Highways at info@lowerthamescrossing.co.uk.

New ‘Keepers of Time’ policy shows impact of your voices

27 June 2022

The Government’s policies on protecting and restoring England’s existing native woods and trees are outlined in its recently published 'Keepers of Time' document. It includes: 

  • a target to have the majority of ancient woodlands which have been damaged by historic plantations to be in the process of restoration by 2030
  • a commitment to restore all ancient woodland under plantations on the public forest estate.

These fantastic commitments have been secured thanks to Woodland Trust supporters who called on Government to improve the condition of our existing woods. More than 3,000 people demanded stronger policies as part of our campaign for a robust England Tree Strategy (which later became the England Tree Action Plan). This in turn led to the Keepers of Time publication.
 
In this document, the Government also commits to stopping the loss of ancient and veteran trees - our living legends. It’s excellent news, but along with the other policies in the document, it will remain rhetoric unless action follows.  
 
Help us turn warm words into decisive action. Sign our petition calling for living legends to be given legally protected status.

Protecting trees and woods

Keep living legends alive

Most of our oldest trees are not legally protected. We're urging governments across the UK to change that. Add your voice to our call for improved protection laws. 

Sign our petition

Celebrate Great Big Green Week 2022

23 June 2022

Thinking about the future of the places we know and love and coming together to protect them is one of the many reasons people around the UK are taking part in Great Big Green Week.

Running 24 September - 2 October, we'll be celebrating Great Big Green Week to take positive action for woods and trees and encourage the Government to follow through on its promises to protect nature and cut emissions.

From safeguarding the places we know and love, to protecting and restoring our natural world people from all walks of life are taking action.

Are you thinking about how you can make a difference for people and nature in your community?

Head to GreatBigGreenWeek.com to register an event in your community.

Summary of latest HS2 consultation published

13 June 2022

From January to March this year, the public were consulted again on the Crewe to Manchester section of HS2. More than 90% of respondents were our supporters raising concerns about the ancient woodland affected by this section.

Last week, our team also met with Andrew Stephenson MP, the government minister responsible for HS2. Such resounding support from those who took part in our consultation campaign helped ensure the meeting was productive. Mr Stephenson said he wants HS2 Ltd to do as much as possible to reduce impacts on ancient woodland and we will continue to press Government to put these words into action.

Thank you to everyone who again raised concerns about the project’s impact on ancient woodland. Your action has helped us keep the issue high on the Government’s agenda.

The full consultation summary can be found in the Independent Assessor’s Report.

 

Thousands object to HS2 Environmental Statement

24 May 2022

In March, nearly 6,000 people spoke out against the Phase 2b Western Leg of HS2 in response to a consultation, raising their voice to defend the irreplaceable ancient woodland threatened by the route. Together, these voices made clear that the proposed Environmental Statement was unacceptable.

After the consultation closed, HS2 Ltd published their ancient woodland strategy. These proposed measures fall short, too, failing to align with Natural England’s advice and needlessly endangering more ancient woodland.

In the Queen’s Speech on 10 May, the High Speed Rail (Crewe-Manchester) Bill was brought into a new session of Parliament, which will grant new powers to construct the Western Leg. Government aims to pass the Bill by the end of 2024, giving us a new deadline to halt the devastation of ancient woodland.

Meanwhile, we expect the Government’s response to the Environmental Statement in the next few weeks. However, HS2’s construction remains a danger to precious woodland habitats as works have begun on Phase 1 between London and Birmingham

Thank you to everyone who took part in the consultation. With your support, we’ll continue fighting to prevent the loss of ancient woodland for as long as it takes.

Join thousands speaking up for strong tree targets

18 May 2022

Over 7,350 people have already joined us in calling for a strong native tree cover target. Now the Government consultation has been extended to 27 June, giving more opportunity to strengthen the message by adding your voice too.

As the Government consults on proposed new environmental targets for England, our united voices are pressing for a tree target that supports high quality, well-connected woodland habitats.

A picture paints a thousand words and our committed supporters have been sending us creative visual responses to the consultation too. The beautiful photos, drawings and paintings will be sent directly to Government as powerful, eye-catching illustrations of the kind of woods and trees we need to fight climate change and protect the UK’s struggling wildlife. Thank you to everyone who has already taken part.

Native trees should be at the heart of a legally binding tree target. Ensure that present and future governments are held to account on woods and trees. Respond to the consultation now.

Protecting trees and woods

Support a target to increase tree cover and recover nature

We need well-connected woodlands, rich in native trees that fight climate change and help nature to recover.

Act now

Join the call for more decisive action on nature's recovery

22 April 2022

Last year, tens of thousands of people joined the campaign calling for a new target to halt nature’s decline in England by 2030. Government eventually listened and put the target into law. Now it's published its plans on how to meet that target - and they don't go far enough.

The plans currently focus on restructuring systems and institutions, but this alone won't suffice. We have just 8 years to stop nature’s free fall and need urgent, decisive action now.

To halt nature’s decline, every remaining ancient woodland needs to be safe. We must protect and restore all ancient woodlands across England by including them in a stronger, more effective network of legally designated wildlife sites that are effectively managed for nature.

Join us to call for decisive action to protect native woods and trees. Respond to the Government consultation by 11 May. 

Are your candidates committed to woods and trees?

20 April 2022

On 5 May 2022, local elections will take place across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and parts of England. You can urge your candidates to protect irreplaceable habitats, increase tree canopy cover and defend our trees’ health by attending your local hustings. Hustings are a great opportunity to ask questions of your election candidates. Here are a few coming up:

  • Northern Ireland Environmental Link is hosting an Environmental Hustings on 21 April, 7-9pm on Zoom in advance of the Assembly Elections.
  • The Tower Hamlets Wheelers are hosting a Walking and Cycling Hustings on 21 April, 7-8.45pm at the Bernie Cameron Community Centre ahead of the Tower Hamlets Mayoral Election.
  • Ahead of the South Yorkshire Mayoral Election:
    • Hope for the Future and Green Alliance are hosting a Climate Hustings on 21 April, 6-7.30pm at Victoria Hall
    • Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and South Yorkshire Climate Alliance are hosting a Climate and Nature Hustings online on 25 April, 7-8.30pm.

Many more hustings are happening across the UK - search for them online or on social media.

Can't find a local hustings? Find out how to urge your candidates to stand up for woods and trees.

Thank you for responding to the plant biosecurity consultation

14 April 2022

In autumn 2021, our campaign on Government’s Plant Biosecurity Strategy consultation called for Government to ensure:

  • high risk host plants are identified, and imports are quarantined or banned quickly to stop pests and diseases entering the wider countryside.
  • UK tree nurseries are supported with grants to reduce our reliance on risky imports, funded by a tariff on high-risk imports.
  • an ambitious communications plan is delivered to improve public awareness and help increase the demand for UK grown trees.

Government has just published a summary of responses to the consultation and of the 1,192 responses it received from the public, 1,047 were from Woodland Trust supporters. Thank you for your support. With your participation we are more likely to secure a positive future for woods and trees.

We are currently waiting for Government to release its updated strategy which will indicate if it has made the necessary changes to secure plants and wildlife from harmful organisms.

Read more

Join the canopy cover mapathon

7 April 2022

This Saturday 9 April, we are holding a ‘mapathon’ aiming to complete over two years of volunteer work mapping tree cover in urban areas.

Over 75% of local authorities have declared a climate emergency and setting tree and canopy cover targets has become a popular method for countering climate change. The map project, in partnership with Forest Research, aims to provide detailed insight into urban tree cover and will be used to analyse which towns and cities would benefit from urban tree planting or better tree management.

You can help by assessing tree cover near you on 9 April. Sign up for a one-hour introductory webinar to learn more about the project and canopy mapping tool we use. We’ll prepare you to carry out your own assessments (each one takes up to an hour) and help to complete the UK's most comprehensive map of urban canopy cover.

Find out more and register.

 

Call for your local candidates to stand for woods and trees  

30 March 2022

On 5 May 2022, thousands of candidates will stand in elections across the UK. All those hoping to succeed should have a plan to make sure everyone can easily access and enjoy the benefits of trees where they live.

We're asking candidates to commit to:  

  • protect irreplaceable habitats
  • increase tree canopy cover  
  • defend our trees’ health.  

Urge your mayoral and local candidates to join the call for better access to nature 

Hold Government to account on woods and trees

25 March 2022

The Environment Act kickstarted a process for the Government to set new environmental targets and we're calling for nature to be put at their heart.

A target for tree and woodland cover should accelerate efforts to combat climate change and nature’s decline. Native trees and woods are havens for the UK’s struggling wildlife. They are also essential for the long-term storage of carbon. 

We want a target that leads to woods which are:

  • best for wildlife. At least 300,000 hectares of all new trees and woods must be native to provide havens for hundreds of woodland species
  • well connected, expanding our existing woodland patches, connecting and increasing habitat sizes and their benefits.

We can't leave the quality of woodland creation to chance. Now’s the time to ensure that the legally binding tree target is watertight and focused on native trees, leading to decisive action which will last for years to come. Respond to the environmental targets consultation now.

Protect ancient woods and trees from HS2’s destruction

18 March 2022

In January 2022, the Environmental Statement for the Phase 2b Western Leg from Crewe to Manchester was released, detailing the impact of this phase of HS2 on ancient woods and veteran trees. Yet again, numerous irreplaceable habitats are affected. 

We can't stand by while the HS2 route threatens these precious habitats. More damage and destruction is not inevitable. Changing the route near Manchester Airport could save several sites and every hectare is worth fighting for. 

Free webinar: how to save a tree 

14 March 2022

Join us at 7pm on 16 March to learn how ordinary people are saving their local trees. 

Campaigners who have taken action for trees will share their experiences of what individuals and communities can do, as well as answer your questions on how to defend local trees and woods.

Register for the webinar now

Scotland protection proposals must be put into practice

24 February 2022

In 2020 alone, at least 274 of Scotland's irreplaceable ancient woods and trees were threatened with loss or damage from development. But the future could be brighter if Scottish Government plans go ahead to improve protection for these precious habitats. A consultation on its National Planning Framework (NPF4) and Scottish Planning Policy is open now and proposed changes could help prevent damage by development - but they are still just proposals.

Read more in a blog by Suzie Saunders from our Scotland team. Suzie explores the importance of ancient woods and trees in the climate and nature emergency, and what the NPF4 could mean for these irreplaceable environments.

We must seize this moment and ensure policy changes are retained in the final NPF4. Respond to the consultation before 31 March 2022.

Join the call for equal access to nature

21 February 2022

The Government’s plans for levelling up aim to create equal opportunity and quality of life for everyone across the UK. But this can only succeed if it includes levelling up tree cover and access to nature.

Across the UK, many communities can’t access nature-rich spaces from their homes, despite the growing evidence that nature is vital for mental health and wellbeing, and greatly improves living standards. Nature should be for everyone.

We’re working with Wildlife and Countryside Link to call on Government to make #Natureforeveryone. We have three key asks:

  1. Make equal access to nature a core test of levelling up
  2. Make it a legal requirement in levelling up legislation for developers and public bodies to provide access to nature-rich green spaces for everyone
  3. Provide funding for locally accessible nature-rich spaces by extending the Levelling Up Fund to green infrastructure projects.

Help ensure everyone has the equal right to nature. Sign our petition.

Have your say on the A27 Arundel bypass 

14 February 2022

In 2020 we reported that the A27 Arundel Bypass project will no longer directly impact any ancient woodland. However, the ‘grey route’ which has since been chosen will:

  • affect numerous ancient and veteran trees
  • have significant impacts on the wider landscape and implications for other important habitats and wildlife, such as bats.

National Highways is consulting on the preferred route proposals until 8 March, and we will be scrutinising the route in detail. Find out more about the consultation, and how you can take part.

Influencing policy in London 

10 February 2022 

Our team has been busy working with policymakers in Westminster in recent months. In December, we held a successful parliamentary reception at the Palace of Westminster with speakers including the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP. This resulted in conversations with policymakers and funders to build relationships and raise issues around the protection of woods and trees. Several MPs and attendees have since arranged visits to our sites. 

On 19 January, we returned to London for the latest APPG for Woods and Trees meeting. The group discussed some of 2021’s bigger moments for nature, woods, and trees and to assess the opportunities for 2022, including the forthcoming Nature Green Paper.

Find out more about the latest meeting and read the minutes.   

Vote for European Tree of the Year 

1 February 2022 

The winner of our UK Tree of the Year 2021 competition is now on the international stage in a Europe-wide competition. The defiant hawthorn tree guards the coastline in Kippford, Dalbeattie, Dumfries & Galloway and is now in the running for European Tree of the Year 2022.  

First held in 2011, the competition is organised by the Environmental Partnership Association to find the trees with the most interesting stories in Europe.

Online voting runs throughout this month, closing on 28 February before a winner is announced in March. Cast your vote today!

Did you know?

We've been defending ancient woods and trees from HS2 for over a decade. We won't give up the fight for these irreplaceable habitats. 

HS2 Phase 2b - the latest developments

27 January 2022

On Monday the Government announced the publication of the Bill for Phase 2b of the HS2 rail project, stretching between Crewe and Manchester. We will be scrutinising the content of the bill and the accompanying Environmental Statement closely, with the support of expert ecological advice. Rest assured we'll be pressing hard for HS2 Ltd to avoid impacts on our precious ancient woodland and trees.  

Explore our earlier successes and current campaigns