Call for a strong Environment Bill

20 January 2021

The Environment Bill is a vital piece of legislation for the future of our natural environment. It will set out the Government’s responsibilities for protecting the environment, which were previously determined by EU law. For the sake of nature, the bill must be as strong as possible. 

On Tuesday 26 January, the bill will be debated in its ‘report stage’ by MPs in the House of Commons. We've worked with our coalition partners, Wildlife and Countryside Link (WCL) and Greener UK, and Hilary Benn MP to table a new amendment (New Clause 5) with cross-party support. The new amendment would require the UK Government to set legally binding targets by 2030 for nature’s recovery. It would turn its international commitments on environmental protection into law. We are asking all MPs to vote for the clause in the debate. 

We must show that the environment is a public priority and needs to be high on MP’s agendas. Nature is in crisis and we have an opportunity to come together and make a united call for the Environment Bill to be as strong as possible for nature. 

Please join us in emailing or tweeting your MP to ask them to:

  1. Attend the debate on 26 January
  2. Support amendment NC5 which puts nature’s recovery into law. 

Our friends at Greener UK have produced a full briefing for MPs that want more information.

Find your MP's details, including email address and Twitter handle. 

Wales road project options all lead to destruction 

10 December 2020

Six irreplaceable ancient woodlands are at risk of destruction from a proposed link road between the M4 and A48 near Cardiff. 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council is offering the public a say by holding a consultation on these routes. But the only available options ask us to choose which ancient woods to ruin and to what extent. We must protect our precious and rare ancient woods, and restore nature, not destroy it.

We need you to urge the council to find solutions that work within the principles of the Well-being of Future Generations Act. This unique piece of Welsh legislation requires public bodies to consider the long term impact of their decisions on local communities and the environment.

We have until 23 December to tell the council the scheme is unacceptable. Respond to the consultation today.

Protecting trees and woods

Stop the irreversible loss of ancient woods in South Wales

Irreplaceable ancient woods near Cardiff are again under threat from a new link road between the A48 and the M4 motorway. 

Take action now

A new Agriculture Act for England

9 December 2020

The Agriculture Bill has finally completed its year-long passage through parliament. The Agriculture Act was passed on 11 November.

The Act aims to reward landowners for better managing their land for the environment. At the heart of the Act is a principle of ‘public money for public goods’, which means landowners will receive financial support for providing public goods. These are goods everyone can access (in theory), like clean air and water, beautiful scenery and rare species.

We’re pleased this principle remained intact as the bill went through parliament. What is defined as a public good is still being agreed. Our policy experts are pressing for it to include:

  • planting trees and hedgerows
  • allowing woods and trees to naturally regenerate.

The Act is an important step forward but much is still to do. We and our Greener UK partners are disappointed with several aspects, such as the lack of commitment to maintaining food standards in future trade deals.

Ambition in the policy must now translate into action on the ground. With an urgent need to address the climate and nature crisis, the Act could make a real difference. We hope effective schemes and investment will follow to help landowners restore nature and mitigate carbon emissions.

We’ll be working with Government wherever we can to make sure schemes support tree planting and natural regeneration.

HS2 Phase 2a amendments tabled in the House of Lords

8 December 2020

Baroness Barbara Young, chair of the Woodland Trust, tabled two amendments to the High Speed Rail (West-Midlands to Crewe) Bill in the House of Lords on 30 November.

The amendments would require HS2 to:

  • Produce six monthly reports of the impact of the project on ancient woodland, available to the public.
  • Use UK and Ireland sourced and grown trees, shrubs and seeds for all mitigation planting/environmental works, to reduce the spread of pests and diseases.

If passed they could set a precedent for every other infrastructure project and phase of HS2.

The House of Lords will vote on our amendments shortly, and we will update you on the outcome.

Protecting trees and woods

HS2 rail link

HS2 is a grave threat to the UK’s ancient woods, with 108 at risk of loss or damage. We can’t let this happen. 

Take action now

Link road plans sent back to the drawing board in ‘encouraging’ move

20 November 2020

Plans to build a major link road in West Yorkshire have gone back to the drawing board because of the proposed impact on ancient woodland.

Last year we opposed new road plans submitted by Kirklees Council, West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Calderdale Council. The proposed A62/A644 (Wakefield Road) Link Road near Brighouse would have caused irreparable damage to Nun Wood. The ancient wood joins land said to be the resting place of Robin Hood.

We are grateful to the local campaigners who raised the alarm and have worked with us. Together we have made councillors take notice of our concerns.

The move is encouraging, but irreplaceable habitat isn’t safe yet. Planners and developers must ensure engineering and the environment work hand-in-hand. Any alternative route the council considers must work alongside nature, not against it.

We’ll be keeping an eye on how the plans progress to make sure ancient woodland stays safe.

Sheffield City Council apologises following damning report of Sheffield tree massacre

19 November 2020

The city council has issued an apology to the public after the Local Government Ombudsman published its report on the fellings.

The investigation found the council’s failings included:

  • misleading the public about its tree removal strategy
  • misrepresenting expert advice
  • acting with a “lack of transparency, openness and on occasion, honesty”.

For eight years, we've supported local residents and campaigners, worked with other NGOs and kept an open dialogue with the council. Our street tree expert, Joseph Coles, welcomed the report and the apology.

“The actions of the council caused an awful lot of hurt, and there should be no expectation for citizens to forgive, or forget,” he says. “The negative impact on communities will be felt for years to come. The Sheffield tree massacre is written into the city’s history. The lost trees will be mourned. Those that remain are standing memorials to them, and testament to the grit and determination of the residents who fought so hard to save them.”

We welcome the positive developments of recent years, including the launch of the new Sheffield Tree Strategy. It recognises the need to finally bring local communities on-board and to re-build Sheffield’s green heritage. The strategy is designed to deliver better management of the city’s street trees for people, the environment and nature.

The events in Sheffield have shown the nation how not to manage trees, people and conflict. But we hope the future will be greener, and that Sheffield can become an example to other local authorities.

Zac Goldsmith receives your England Tree Strategy responses

18 November 2020

Earlier this year, more than 3,000 of you took part in our England Tree Strategy campaign. Together we called for strong targets to tackle climate change using woods and trees.

We were blown away by the passion and deep understanding of the issues in your comments. We wanted to highlight them to the minister responsible, Zac Goldsmith, so we sent him your comments in a beautiful printed compendium. Together they urge the Government to include bold tree planting targets and protections for woods and trees in the strategy.

This is one of the many ways that adding your voice to our campaigns makes a difference. It helps us to reach key decision makers with our message and influence vitally important decisions about woods and trees.

It's great to hear Zac's warm words about action on woods and trees. Now we need to see that in action.

Now we await a strategy that will drive real change and make sure England is a country rich in native woods and trees to fight climate change. It’s expected to be published in the spring.

Momentous win for street tree campaigners

12 November 2020

Street tree campaigners in Northampton are celebrating after their local council agreed to improve its tree policy.

Since local campaign group Save Our Street Trees began, its key aim has been to see Northampton Borough Council update its tree policy. The group secured this incredible victory on 2 November when the council voted almost unanimously to update the policy.

The group was set up in 2016 after local resident Alice Whitehead raised concerns about the maintenance and felling of street trees in the area. The council faced restructuring and a lack of available funding, but our street trees team was on hand to help. We worked together to support residents and the council to find financially viable solutions.

Following this welcome decision, Save Our Street Trees will be able to work with the council to make a difference. The updated policy should be positive, proactive and in line with those of other towns and cities. Any improvements should look to plant, protect and maintain Northampton’s vitally important street trees.

Street tree heroes

Alice is one of many people across the UK fighting for their street trees. They're planting the trees of the future, rallying community support and influencing local planning policies. Read their stories and discover how to champion street trees where you live.

Stand up for street trees

Ask your MP to take action on planning changes

30 October 2020

This summer, Government announced plans to completely overhaul England’s planning system, threatening woods and trees and your ability to defend them.

Over 9,600 of you responded to the public consultation through our campaign, asking for woods and trees to be given greater protections. This was a key first step in getting the Government’s attention, but it was just the beginning. We still need your help.

There is growing political concern about the proposed changes. We need as many MPs as possible to put pressure on the Government to amend the proposals. The protection of woods and trees must be a priority, not an afterthought.

Ask your MP to press for our proposals to be included in any changes to the planning system, for the benefit of their constituents.

Protecting trees and woods

Defend trees and woods from cuts to planning protection

Changes to the planning system threaten woods and trees and your ability to defend them. 

Ask your MP to act

Join the Big Climate Fightback

26 October 2020

Trees are our strongest warriors in the fight against climate change. But right now, we have nowhere near enough trees to meet the Government’s goal of zero carbon emissions by 2025.

That’s why we want to establish 50 million new trees over the next five years, and we can’t do that without you.

One way to get involved in the Big Climate Fightback is to add your voice to our campaign.

Policies that truly fight back against climate change need to come from each of the devolved governments of the UK. We need more than words from all our leaders. We need action and we need trees.

With a campaign for each nation of the UK, we’re calling on all four governments to make the changes needed at this critical moment. Speak up to demand action and achieve the increase in native tree cover we need by joining our campaign for your country.

Protecting trees and woods

Speak up and join the Big Climate Fightback

Everyone can help plant trees. But only government can drive the nationwide change to plant and grow the millions of trees needed to fight climate change. Join the fight and demand action from yours now.

Add your voice

Tree of the Year 2020 - the winners!

23 October 2020

The votes are in and we are delighted to announce the winners of Tree of the Year 2020.

The competition celebrates our most loved trees and all they do for us. This year we saw more votes than ever as lockdown brought into focus how much we need our green spaces. This year’s winners shine a light on the ever-present threats to trees in our communities as well as giving us cause for hope: demonstrating what’s possible when we choose to regenerate our natural spaces.

This year’s winners are:

  • England: The Happy Man Tree, Hackney, London
  • Scotland: The Survivor Tree, Carrifran valley in the Borders
  • Wales: The Chapter House Tree, Margam Park, Port Talbot.

Thank you to everyone that nominated and voted for this year's trees. An overall British winner will be chosen later this year, and will go forward into the European Tree of the Year competition.

Read the winners' stories

A27 bypass re-route saves ancient woodland

16 October

Irreplaceable ancient woodlands will not be destroyed to make way for the A27 Arundel bypass, Highways England has announced.

Since 2017, thousands of you have supported our campaign for the bypass to avoid ancient woodland, and your voices were heard. The six potential routes proposed in 2019 all threatened irreplaceable habitats, but the chosen ‘grey route’ will not involve the loss of any ancient woodland.

While this option is a win for ancient woodland, it does not alter the fact that road building schemes are not a sustainable transport solution. We are pleased that Highways England at last appears to have listened to our concerns and those of thousands of our supporters when it comes to this precious natural resource. But the route chosen will still result in loss of and damage to veteran trees, so still causes a net loss to the environment.

Read more

Scotland needs strong environmental laws post-Brexit

15 October 2020

After Brexit, the UK will lose its EU environmental protections. In Scotland, 80% of current environmental protections come from the EU - but three months from now, these will no longer apply. The environment is a devolved issue in Scotland, so it can control its own future environment legislation. Proposals are already in place, but they don't go far enough. 

The Scottish Government’s Continuity Bill aims to ensure Scottish law continues to function without any interruptions or gaps after Brexit. The bill includes proposals for a new environment watchdog, called Environment Standards Scotland. But the proposals don’t give the watchdog the same powers as current EU law and would leave Scotland’s nature at risk. 

The watchdog would have the power to make sure: 

  • public bodies in Scotland apply environmental law
  • environmental law is effective in protecting the environment and our wellbeing.

But it wouldn't have the authority to investigate individual cases, like whether a specific planning application complies with environmental law.

Scottish Environment Link – a coalition of 38 members working together for a more environmentally sustainable society – is calling for a stronger watchdog. As a proud member of the coalition, we are joining the call for the Continuity Bill to give the watchdog greater powers. Failure to do this would represent a significant erosion of environmental governance in Scotland, and of people’s rights and ability to take action on the environment. 

Scotland’s nature is world-renowned. Tell the Scottish Government we need the strongest environmental laws possible to protect it.

Fight for Scotland's nature. Sign Scottish Environment Link's petition.

Don’t leave woods and trees defenceless against planning changes

14 October 2020

Government has announced a complete overhaul of England’s planning system that threatens woods and trees and your ability to defend them.

The proposals:

  • remove existing protection for most of the country’s ancient woods and trees, leaving them vulnerable to damage and destruction from development  
  • reduce the say that communities can have on decisions affecting their local trees.

After years of campaigning, England’s ancient woodland and veteran trees were finally given increased protection in the 2018 National Planning Policy Framework revision. Yet the Government’s proposed changes to the planning system disregard that protection. These irreplaceable habitats are missing from the list of land types that would be protected in the new planning system. 

Consultation processes are set for change too. The public could have fewer opportunities to defend woods and trees from unchecked loss due to development.

Join us in urging Government to make sure:

  • ancient woodland is a no-go area for developers
  • communities have a say in decisions affecting their trees.

The planning system is often our last line of defence when it comes to saving woods and trees. Speak up, before we lose this lifeline.

Urge the Department for Transport to hold HS2 to account

7 October 2020

This autumn, at least 20 areas of ancient woodland are set to be destroyed, in full or in part, as HS2 prepares the ground for Phase 1 construction works.

It's vital that Government understands destroying ancient woods and trees is unacceptable, especially when we are in the midst of a nature and climate crisis. It's not too late to save some of these irreplaceable habitats.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is the Government department responsible for HS2 now and in the future, and it needs to step up. Join us in urging the DfT to:

  • make HS2 Ltd publicly commit to saving areas of ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees
  • make sure that HS2 Ltd and its contractors stick to agreed working practices and are held accountable if they do not
  • prevent HS2 Ltd repeating the same mistakes on any future phases. 

Don’t let HS2 Ltd get away with its unacceptable treatment of irreplaceable habitat. Press the Department for Transport to hold HS2 accountable.

Local councils sell out community trees Q&A

22 September 2020

Nearly 100 local councils sold out a live Q&A session on September 8, discussing how to ensure trees are at the heart of communities. Led by our Tree Charter Lead, Zara Holden and Urban Projects Officer, Sarah Shorley, the talk was part of the National Association for Local Council’s Rebuilding Communities webinar series.

The session looked at the importance of trees in urban areas, why it’s so important that every council has a tree strategy, and how councils can meet the principles of the Tree Charter through neighbourhood planning.

Zara and Sarah were delighted with the engagement from councils with several signing up to become Tree Charter branches. The popularity of the event shows the widespread acknowledgement that trees are fundamental to a green recovery.

Thank you for lobbying your MP 

18 September 2020

Thank you to everyone who asked their MP to attend the All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting on 8 September. As a direct result of your emails, 19 attendees were there on the day representing all of the major political parties. This shows the real impact you can have when you lobby your MP.

Key moments from the meeting included:

  • Agreeing a response to the England Tree Strategy.
  • Discussing concerns about proposals in the Planning White Paper, including the omission of woodlands.
  • Discussing the millions of pounds of investment announced by Scottish and Welsh governments for woodland creation and restoration.

The next APPG meeting is due to be held before the Planning White Paper consultation closes on 29 October. We will keep you updated on any developments.

Call on Government to invest in a green recovery in the 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review

17 September 2020

This autumn, the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review will identify which areas of the economy it will invest in for the next five years.

We know that our best chance of building a resilient economy goes hand-in-hand with tackling climate change. 

That’s why we’re supporting the Climate Coalition’s campaign. As a proud member of the Coalition, we support its six key asks of the Government, which include protecting and growing green and wild spaces. We want to make sure our leaders put a healthy, green and fair future at the heart of plans to build back from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The decisions made in this spending review are a key opportunity for the UK to:

  • make sure our recovery gets us on track to net-zero emissions
  • limit the rise in the global temperature to 1.5 degrees.

Show the Chancellor we want a cleaner, greener future at the centre of public spending. Send your response by 24 September. Your voice can make a difference.

The Review will be published later this autumn.

Thank you for demanding a bolder England Tree Strategy

14 September 2020

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in our England Tree Strategy campaign.

The consultation closed on 11 September. More than 3,000 of you joined us in calling for a stronger, target-led strategy to create a UK rich in native woods, trees and wildlife. 

Over 70% of those were personalised responses and we were blown away by your submissions. They were informative and impassioned, highlighting the need for greater native tree coverage and better protections for our existing ancient trees.

We also gave a detailed response and DEFRA will now review all of the submissions, including yours. We expect the new strategy to be revealed in the next few months and will keep you updated on any developments. 

Thank you again for taking part. Your voice makes a real difference.

House of Lords hears our petition for improvements to HS2 Phase 2a Bill

9 September 2020

We recently gave evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on HS2 Phase 2a and asked for assurances on aspects of the project.

Our lead policy advocate for infrastructure, Luci Ryan, reported that the Lords were very engaged and asked lots of pertinent questions, so we’re hopeful they will make the requested changes. 

As we’re deemed to be directly affected by the project, we’re an official petitioner on the HS2 Phase 2a Bill. We submitted a petition – a huge evidence report - to HS2 Ltd in August 2019, but it has been unable to offer us assurances to resolve our concerns on four matters. So on 3 September we were given the opportunity to present these to the House of Lords Select Committee. We hope the committee will direct HS2 to resolve the four issues:

  1. Compensate for the lost woodlands by planting 30ha of woodland for every 1ha destroyed. This is supported by Natural England.
  2. Use trees sourced and grown in the UK and Ireland to eliminate biosecurity risks.
  3. No ancient woods or veteran trees should be lost to temporary work. Any impact on an irreplaceable resource is permanent.
  4. All our assurances previously agreed on Phase 2a should be converted to legally binding undertakings. Our experience on Phase 1 and the breached assurances has shown that the process to resolve breaches is not satisfactory. If our assurances are made legally binding undertakings, we will be better positioned to hold HS2 to account. 

The session focused on these four assurances and did not allow us to ask for any changes that would prevent the substantial destruction of ancient woodland. Major changes can only be requested at the House of Commons, but our requests have been refused.

Once the committee finishes sitting it will publish its report, likely in the next couple of months. At this point we will learn whether it agrees to our requests for change. The Bill will then return to the House of Commons with any changes made in the Lord's report. We expect the Queen to give the Bill Royal Assent in early 2021, making it an Act of Parliament and allowing works to start on the ground for Phase 2a.

Watch Luci give evidence on Parliamentlive.tv

Ask your MP to attend the All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting

4 September 2020

We are standing at a crossroads for the future of the UK’s woods and trees. As we prepare to leave the EU and the environmental protections it affords, our own policies on woods and trees must be robust.

To make sure that happens, we need powerful advocates in parliament that support our calls and raise their voice for woods, trees and people.

You joined our campaign to encourage MPs to attend the 8 September All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting and call for stronger, bolder target-led policies for the benefit of woods, trees and people. Thank you.

Cast your vote to crown Tree of the Year 2020

25 August 2020

Voting opened to crown a 2020 Tree of the Year for England, Scotland and Wales.

We shortlisted ten trees in England, six in Scotland and six in Wales for the public vote. As well as putting the nation’s best trees on the map, the awards - supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery - offer a £1,000 care award for each winning tree.

Voting closed on 24 September. The winner will be announced in October.

Have your say on the England Tree Strategy

5 August 2020

The England Tree Strategy is the plan that will determine what Government does to protect, plant and restore woods and trees for years to come. 

You joined us in pressing for more trees in our landscapes, towns and cities, and for better care of the precious trees we already have. The Government consultation closed on 11 September.

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 review rejected by Court of Appeal

31 July 2020

Chris Packham's request for a judicial review into HS2 has been rejected by the Court of Appeal. The judges said they gave their decision only 'light scrutiny, as it was a government decision'.

Reacting to the rejection of the appeal, Chris Packham said: "(This was) about a government who signed up to an agreement to reduce carbon emissions, and then ignored their responsibility. A government that sanctioned the destruction of one of the most precious habitats we have, ancient woodland, in the frightening face of a climate and environment emergency. A government that destroyed nesting birds, roosting bats and the centuries old homes of badgers, in spite of their legal protection."

Chris thanked the NGOs that supported the evidence base of his legal action, such as our own Luci Ryan.

We are deeply disappointed for Chris, supporters of the action, and the natural environment that will suffer at the hands of HS2. But it won’t discourage us – we’ll keep fighting to save these irreplaceable habitats.

Sheffield Tree Strategy

13 July 2020

Organised by local groups passionate about trees, the virtual Sheffield Tree Week festival ran from 13-19 July.

The event included free webinars on a range of topics and the launch of the Sheffield Street Tree Partnership Working Strategy, a management plan for the city’s trees created by local residents and decision makers.

Woodland Trust sites saved from development

10 July 2020

Several ancient woods were saved from Eastleigh Borough Council’s development proposals, including the Trust’s Upper Barn & Crowdhill Copses.

Thousands of local residents have formed their own campaigns and supported our objections since 2016. A huge thank you to you all. We also thank Mims Davies MP, who supported her constituents and put pressure on the council to change its plans. 

We recognise the need for more housing across the UK. But we’ll continue to press decision makers to put nature and the environment at the top of the agenda when considering new development plans.

HS2 hearing at the Court of Appeal

8 July 2020

Chris Packham has taken his legal fight against HS2 to the Court of Appeal. The courts granted the hearing, held on 8 July, on the basis of considerable public interest. 

Three leading judges heard the evidence before determining whether a judicial review should take place to consider the lawfulness of Government’s decision for HS2 to go ahead.

Our expert Luci Ryan helped to shape Chris’ evidence on how the scheme impacts ancient woodland. Unfortunately the Court of Appeal later rejected the case.

Pressing Government for a green recovery

30 June 2020

Today, over 14,000 people joined the Time is Now virtual lobby. They met more than 200 MPs to talk about a healthy, green and fair recovery after coronavirus.

These numbers clearly evidence the demand for a recovery that benefits people, nature and the environment.

What is a green recovery? Find out more and see what you can do in our blog.

Nominations close for Tree of the Year 2020

29 June 2020

It's been a bumper year for Tree of the Year nominations,  with hundreds of excellent trees with fantastic stories put forward. We created a shortlist ready for a public vote in August.

Thank you to everyone who nominated a tree, and to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for supporting the competition.

Prioritising nature in the Oxford to Cambridge Growth Arc

15 June 2020

The Oxford to Cambridge Growth Arc is a plan to build up to a million new homes, a railway and roads.

We worked with other leading nature conservation organisations to release our Nature’s Arc principles. Find out why we created them and more about the project.

Guidance on illegal activity during lockdown

14 May 2020

Reports of illegal felling of trees and woods increased during lockdown. 

If you think you’ve spotted unlawful felling, our blog is a handy guide to Tree Preservation Orders, felling licences, planning enforcement and reporting wildlife crime.

April 2020

Felling for HS2 begins

Work began along Phase 1 of HS2, with the first ancient woods chopped down in Warwickshire, at the most inappropriate time of year. We continued to work tirelessly behind the scenes to push Government to monitor HS2’s contractors and investigate any breaches and wildlife crimes.

Lower Thames Crossing consultation ends

Our Lower Thames Crossing campaign ended as the public consultation closed on 2 April. More than 3,400 of you joined us to tell Highways England that damaging irreplaceable habitats for this new road tunnel is unacceptable. Thank you.

Local councils fighting climate change

Over 1,000 of you joined our campaign encouraging your council to talk to us about responding to the climate crisis with woods and trees. Your voice made a huge difference - we’re now collaborating with 43 councils we haven’t worked with before to create a plan for each of their areas. 

2020 Tree of the Year competition begins

Nominations opened for Tree of the Year 2020, the annual competition that highlights and celebrates special trees across the UK. 

March 2020

Working with local authorities

Councils across England have declared a climate emergency, but many are yet to put robust plans in place. Trees and woods are an essential part of the solution, so we launched a campaign to help local councils use them to fight the crises. 

Promoting the Emergency Tree Plan

Hundreds of you kept sharing our Emergency Tree Plan and pressing government to act on its recommendations to tackle the climate and nature emergency with trees and woods.

Glasgow Action Plan for climate change

In advance of Glasgow hosting COP 26 (Conference of the Parties), the United Nations Climate Change Conference this November, the Climate Coalition launched the Glasgow Action Plan on 2 March, together with over 60 organisations including the Woodland Trust.

Last push on Lower Thames Crossing 

We made a final push on our Lower Thames Crossing campaign before the public consultation closed in April. The controversial road tunnel proposals would link Essex and Kent under the River Thames at the expense of irreplaceable habitat.

European Tree of the Year announced

The results of the annual competition were revealed on 17 March. Liverpool’s Allerton Oak placed seventh with an impressive 16,449 votes. Thank you to everyone who voted.

February 2020

Green light for HS2

After a lengthy review, Government dealt a killer blow to ancient woods by giving HS2 the go ahead, disregarding the environment and ecological crises.

Showing the love for woods and trees

We shared ideas for joining The Climate Coalition’s annual Show the Love campaign which aims to spark conversations about climate change among our peers and politicians.

Celebrity oak tree

Liverpool’s Allerton Oak was interviewed live on ITV’s This Morning! Through ‘tree whisperer’ Holly Worton, Alison Hammond asked the 1,000 year old oak how it felt to be in the running for European Tree of the Year in advance of the results on 17 March.

Emergency Tree Plan activity continues

With your help, we continued to share our recently-launched Emergency Tree Plan and push for Government action on climate change.

Lower Thames Crossing campaign launch

We asked for your views in the final consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing, which threatens at least 12 ancient woods and 15 veteran trees.

Quick fact

Smithy Wood, the first wood we saved in 2020, has history dating back at least 850 years.

January 2020

Emergency Tree Plan launch

We launched the Emergency Tree Plan to Government, media and supporters - our vision for how the UK can increase tree cover and help tackle both the nature and climate crises. You joined us in droves to urge climate action with trees and woods.

All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting

After more than 1,800 of you encouraged your representatives to attend our All-Party Parliamentary Group on woods and trees, we met with a record 24 parliamentarians. That's four times the usual number! Find out more about the APPG and what happened on the day. 

Smithy Wood saved!

Service station plans threatening ancient Smithy Wood, by the M1 north of Sheffield, were withdrawn. You’ve campaigned with us for six long years to pressure the council and developers to save Smithy Wood, including more than 3,600 of you in our most recent campaign. You made this victory possible. Thank you.

Street tree celebrations

Walsall Volunteer Tree Wardens, councillors and schoolchildren planted 35 young trees in Pelsall, supported by our street trees team.

Quick fact

4,500 of you helped to save Nidd Gorge from relief road plans.

2019 highlights

  • More than 3,000 of you joined us to respond to DEFRA’s consultation on protecting and enhancing England’s trees and woods. Your voices were heard and the new Environment Bill, published in autumn 2019, included a legal duty to consult before felling street trees, and stronger powers for the Forestry Commission on illegal felling too. Read our blog on the bill.
  • Over 280 people shared their thoughts on draft proposals for the Scottish Forestry Strategy and the future for Scotland’s woods and trees. The strategy will guide almost all policy and action around woods and trees in Scotland for the next decade.  
  • We joined 12,000 people at the Time is Now mass lobby held by The Climate Coalition and GreenerUK to ask for action on Climate Change and Nature’s decline.
  • We campaigned to save the Nidd Gorge landscape, including ancient woodland and one of our own sites, from being cut in two by a proposed relief road. Your voices were heard and the council scrapped the plans.
  • Thousands of you joined us in pressing Government to include the environmental cost of HS2 in the Oakervee Review, its review of the scheme. We successfully delayed the start of works and removal of precious ancient woodland sites. We’ll continue to fight to stop the devastation caused by the project.
  • Our Big Climate Fightback campaign culminated in tree planting events across the UK on 30 November, with over 265,000 people taking part! The mass planting day also marked Tree Charter Day, the only national day celebrating the UK’s tree heritage.
  • 3,800 people took part in our campaign to put trees on the agenda for the General Election, with every major party competing for bigger tree targets. Now we need to ensure their promises are delivered and the right trees are planted in the right place.

Success stories from previous years

2018

  • We ran a huge campaign on phase 2b of HS2, which threatened at least 30 ancient woods. As a result, over 32,000 people responded to the draft Environmental Statement consultation. The final consultation is expected in 2021 at the earliest. 
  • We successfully lobbied Government to improve English planning policy and better protect our irreplaceable habitats. The National Planning Policy Framework wording now states that any applications for development resulting in loss or damage to ancient woods or ancient and veteran trees should be refused unless ‘wholly exceptional’.

2017

  • We launched the Charter for Trees, Woods and People on 6 November 2017, the 800th anniversary of the influential 1217 Charter of the Forest. The charter sets out the principles by which trees and people in the UK can stand stronger together.