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

Get the full story

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.

The next All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting will take place on Tuesday 8 September at noon.

With planning reform proposals and a new Tree Strategy in development, we need a cross-party group that’s as strong as possible. That way it can play a crucial role in shaping both of these documents for the better.

Ask your MP to attend and call for stronger, bolder target-led policies for the benefit of woods, trees and people.

Protecting trees and woods

All-Party Parliamentary Group for Woods and Trees

The APPG meets several times a year to discuss steps to protect, restore and expand woods and trees in a time of climate and nature crises.  

Read more

Cast your vote to crown Tree of the Year 2020

25 August 2020

Help us crown a 2020 Tree of the Year for England, Scotland and Wales by voting for your favourite now!

Whittled down from hundreds of nominations sent in during lockdown, we've shortlisted ten trees in England, six in Scotland and six in Wales. They all have special stories and features and are now up 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 is open until 24 September.

Trees woods and wildlife

Tree of the Year 2020

Help us crown this year’s Tree of the Year in our national contest celebrating trees across the UK and their special stories.

Vote now

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. 

The strategy must be ambitious. It must set meaningful targets to increase native tree cover, restore our ancient woodlands, and drive action at a local level.

The Government consultation is open until 11 September. This is our chance to press for more trees throughout our landscapes, towns and cities, and for better care of the precious trees we already have.

Our key asks are:

  • 18,000 ha of new native woodland by 2025
  • 75% of native woods in good condition or improving for nature by 2030
  • Every local authority to have its own tree strategy
  • All trees bought with public money must be UK sourced and grown.

Speak up to make sure the strategy will be robust and ambitious. Your voice can make a difference.

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. Once again, irreplaceable ancient woods and ancient and veteran trees are being treated as after-thoughts as the Government pushes ahead with the HS2 project.

Sheffield Tree Week

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.

The festival follows the unwavering dedication of Sheffield campaigners who have saved hundreds of trees from the chop. Local groups have been at the forefront of change, from direct activism to creating incredible art works. These works include the amazing Sheffield Tree Charter Pledge: 2020 Vision convened by Green City Heritage.

Woodland Trust sites saved from development

10 July 2020

Several ancient woods have been saved from Eastleigh Borough Council’s development proposals. They include some of the Trust’s own ancient woods, Upper Barn & Crowdhill Copses.

Separated by only a small field, the proposed link road would have severed our sites in two. The construction of thousands of homes would have irreparably damaged the woods’ biodiversity and fragmented these sites from the wider landscape.

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. Together we showed Eastleigh Borough Council that residents don’t want local development at the expense of ancient woodland.

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.

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 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 and will now determine whether a judicial review of the HS2 project should take place. This type of review considers the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body – in this case the Government’s decision for HS2 to go ahead.

The appeal is based on two grounds:

  1. The Oakervee Review, set up to assess if and how HS2 should continue, did not adequately take into account the environmental impact of the scheme when it recommended it should proceed.
  2. The Prime Minister and Transport Secretary failed to consider the implications of the international Paris Agreement on climate change when they agreed the scheme should proceed.

Our expert Luci Ryan helped to shape Chris’ evidence on how the scheme impacts ancient woodland. As yet it’s unclear when the decision will be announced or what the judicial review process might be, but we’ll update you when there’s news.

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

We’ve had a bumper year for Tree of the Year nominations and have been blown away by the excellent trees with fantastic stories.

Our panel of judges will now have the difficult task of turning the hundreds of entries into a shortlist, ready for a public vote later this year. 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 between the two cities, with a railway and roads to connect them.

We worked with other leading nature conservation organisations to release our Nature’s Arc principles. These set out what we want to see adopted at a local level to protect, restore and increase nature in the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Arc. Find out more about the project and why we’ve created the Nature’s Arc principles.

Guidance on illegal activity during lockdown

14 May 2020

During lockdown, we've seen an increase in reports of illegal felling of trees and woods. 

We’re doing what we can to address these cases and protect our precious trees and woods. 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 has begun along the Phase 1 section of HS2 between London and Birmingham and the first ancient woods have been chopped down in Warwickshire. Seeing these works happening at all is devastating, but especially so when it’s at the most inappropriate time of year. We’re limited in what we can do on the ground, but we're working tirelessly behind the scenes to push Government to monitor the works of 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 destroying and damaging irreplaceable habitats is unacceptable. The proposals for a new road tunnel beneath the River Thames threaten 12 ancient woods and 15 veteran trees. We hope our combined voices will be heard. Thanks to your help, we already stand a good chance of protecting our own Ashenbank Wood from a gas mains being built under it.

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, with 43 councils contacting us that we haven’t worked with before. We’re now collaborating to create a plan for each of their areas. 

2020 Tree of the Year competition begins

The search began for the coveted title of Tree of the Year 2020, the annual competition that highlights and celebrates special trees across the UK. Nominations opened for people to tell us about their most loved tree, be it a visually stunning specimen, a beacon of hope in uncertain times, or a tree with an amazing back story.

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.