New ‘Tree Charter’ to protect people’s rights to the benefits of trees and woods

29 March 2017 

More than 70 organisations, including City of Trees, with a combined membership of 20 million people launch 10 principles to bring trees and woods to the centre of UK society

Today sees the launch of 10 guiding principles for the future of trees, woods and people, drawn from more than 50,000 stories submitted by members of the public.

The principles reveal the role of trees in our lives, and are agreed by a coalition of more than 70 cross-sector UK organisations. These organisations are now united in calling for people across the UK to stand up for trees by signing the Tree Charter and helping to shape history.

The principles will form the bedrock of the new ‘Charter for Trees, Woods and People’ to be launched in November 2017, which aims to secure a brighter future for the nation’s woods and trees, and to protect the rights of all people in the UK to access the many benefits they offer.

The creation of the Tree Charter is supported by a raft of famous names including: Clive Anderson, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Humphrys, Chris Packham, Kevin McCloud, Gemma Cairney and Carenza Lewis, who have all helped to create animations to support the project principles.

At a time when England may have tipped into deforestation, with more trees being cut down than planted for the first time in 40 years, it is essential we act now as a nation to protect the future of trees and woods for people for generations to come.

From community woods across the UK, street trees in our cities, timber in our houses, to many ancient trees and woods with historical and cultural connections such as the Tolpuddle Martyrs tree2 – which saw the birth of trade unions – or Sherwood Forest linked to much folklore and history, trees and woods play an important part in our lives3, but more woods are under threat than ever before4.

Beccy Speight , Woodland Trust CEO said: "Today, our nation’s woods and trees are facing unprecedented pressures from development, pests and diseases and climate change. They risk being neglected, undervalued and forgotten. Now is the time to create a new Tree Charter, which recognises the importance of trees in our society, celebrates their enormous contribution to our lives, and acts now so that future generations can benefit from them too.

“Our collective ambition is for a Tree Charter that puts trees back at the heart of our lives, communities and decision making – where they belong. The Tree Charter will provide guidance and inspiration to allow us all to appreciate, preserve and celebrate our trees and woods for what they do for us in so many different ways.”

Whereas the historic charter was signed by the King to grant rights to his subjects, the new Tree Charter will draw its strength from people power, with signatures from hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK.

Principle Theme and Principle Aim

  1. Nature - Thriving habitats for diverse species
  2. Planting -  Planting for the future
  3. Arts & Heritage - Celebrating the cultural impacts of trees
  4. Utility & Livelihoods -  A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK
  5. Protection - Better protection for important trees and woods
  6. Planning - Enhancing new developments with trees
  7. Health & Wellbeing - Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees
  8. People & Access to trees -  Access to trees for everyone
  9. Coping with Threats - Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management
  10. Environment - Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees

The Tree Charter Principles articulate the relationship between people and trees in the UK in the 21st Century. The final Charter will provide guidance and inspiration for policy, practice, innovation and enjoyment, redefining the everyday benefits that we all gain from woods and trees in our lives, for everyone, from Government to businesses, communities and individuals.

City of Trees is the charter branch for Greater Manchester and has been collecting stories as part of the Heritage Trees project 

People can find out more and sign the new Charter at: treecharter.uk/sign