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Monday, 06 November 2017
FSC UK supports the Tree Charter

(© FSC UK / C Jones)© FSC UK / C Jones

FSC UK is proud to be one of more than 70 organisations involved in the formation of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People, which will be launched at Lincoln Castle today, the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest.

The call for a Tree Charter was initiated in 2015 by the Woodland Trust in response to the crisis facing trees and woods in the UK: there was no clear, unifying statement about the rights of people in the UK to the benefits of trees, woods and forests.

Over 60,000 tree stories from people, demonstrating the important role that trees play in their lives were collected, read and shared. Together with the input of members of the Charter Steering Group, they helped to define the 10 Principles of the Tree Charter, ensuring that it stands for every tree and every person in the UK.

What was the original Charter of the Forest?

The original 1217 Charter of the Forest (© British Library)© British LibraryIn 1217 the Charter of the Forest was signed by Henry III to protect the rights of free men in England to access and use the Royal Forests which had been set aside as the King’s hunting grounds. Prior to this, anyone entering Royal Forests to access sustainable benefits, such as firewood, could be punished severely for stealing.

Charter Principles

1. Sustain landscapes rich in wildlife
Each tree is a world within itself, teeming with life. A fallen branch is a feast for beetles, fungal-rich woodland soil is a wildflower bed. A hedgerow is a living network, where a host of creatures share their home. Forests are full of opportunities for people, but their natural wealth is the wildlife. Our future good means thinking in the round, adapting plans to what is on the ground. New urban and transport projects should make routes for our native wildlife to move forward too. Take heed of nature’s needs.

2. Plant for the future
When we enjoy the company of a treasured tree or the beauty of a favourite wood we often owe thanks to those with the foresight and confidence to invest in the future. We must show that same generosity of spirit, that same sense of hope for the future, and plant more now. Line streets with living greenery, let trees allow shifting colour into every life. More orchards for communities, more hedges for wildlife, more forests for timber and jobs. Nurture people’s pride in their local trees and empower them to care for their future. Right tree, right place, bright future.

3. Celebrate the power of trees to inspire
Stories have always grown on trees. Artists are drawn to their intricacies. Woods are rooted in memories, but it’s the leaf mould of tales told that nourishes future growth. The poetry of trees is always living, for every older work sends out new shoots. We grow attached to trees in books and learn to look for them in life. We feel connected to trees we know and love to see them painted well. Celebrate Tree Charter Day each year to strengthen this cultural legacy and help our living traditions thrive.

4. Grow forests of opportunity and innovation
Forests, woods and trees all flourish under the stewardship of skilled professionals. Trees reward us with fuel for enterprise, craft and invention, green energy and fires. Consider the source of wooden products and choose the home-grown [as the first choice for UK industries] from well-managed forests. Teach the rising generation that with responsible management a wooded land is a thriving nation.

5. Protect irreplaceable trees and woods
Ancient woods have been continuously wooded since before records started: they are living descendants from Britain’s prehistory. A tree may be a village’s oldest inhabitant, a founding figure in a region’s identity, a natural monument in the nation’s story. Thorn-bushes and hedgerows harbour our history. Old orchards are habitats for some of our rarest species and living museums of disappearing ways of life. A country that cares for its future cares for its past: we need laws and commitment to protect these irreplaceable natural treasures.

6. Plan greener local landscapes
The trees that touch us most are those that live among us, along our street, in the local park, beside our school or place of work. Like us, they grow and change, need space to breathe and support to thrive. Trees give places their distinctive character. Local community networks have a vital role to play in caring for woods and trees. Trees provide long-lasting good, so well-informed planning reaps long-term rewards. Take guidance on planting, felling and replanting from skilled professionals. Good landscapes of the future depend on care for trees today.

The articles of this principal also include the prioritisation of sustainable timber as a versatile, cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice of building material.

7. Recover health, hope and wellbeing with the help of trees
Peace grows quietly in tree-lined places, where bees, fresh scents and birdsong revive our jaded senses. Sprays of greenery ensure cleaner air and clearer minds, and fitter bodies, more inclined to take a walk or meet a friend. Spirits lift and stress recedes when we stroll through healing glades. Parks and woodlands keep us well and help to quell fears of illness, ageing, loss – we breathe more freely under trees. Healthcare and tree-care go hand in hand: harness the therapeutic power of trees.

The articles of this principal also include highlight the use of visible timber products, which has been shown to lower stress and improve mood.

8. Make trees accessible to all
Trees offer shared experience to every age, religion and race. In woods people can work together, sharing experiences and learning from each other and their natural surroundings. Those who no longer move with ease can still find pleasure among the trees. Cheerful voices ring through leaves, from makeshift pitches and games of make-believe. There should be room for us all beneath spreading canopies.

9. Combat the threats to our habitats
Pests, diseases and climate change pose serious threats to our precious trees. Enlightened management of woods will help ensure their future health: planting strong seeds and saplings, selecting species suited to the site, keeping forests mixed in age and kind, regular thinning, combatting invasive plants, and controlling infections and pests at the earliest sign.

10. Strengthen our landscapes with trees
From roots that bind and enrich the soil to leaves that shade and shelter, from locking carbon into timber and purifying air and water, trees make our landscapes better. Rising water swells and floods, so strengthen riverbanks with roots. Bare hills need trees to keep the soil stable, to slow the flow of nature's deluge, to shelter sheep or shade the cattle. The right tree in the right place earns its keep again and again. As farmers and landowners benefit from woods, the country will be strengthened in the years ahead.

Find out more and sign the charter

© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000231