Local councils are heavily involved with trees and would benefit from greater support, National Association of Local Council's (NALC) recent survey has found.
NALC undertook the survey on behalf of The Tree Charter project and found local councils to have extensive involvement with their local trees in a variety of different roles. 87% of councils said issues around trees were discussed either frequently or sometimes during council meetings. However, only 22.8% of respondents indicated they have guiding policies concerning trees.
The Tree Charter aspires to fill this policy gap by providing guidance and inspiration for policy and practice regarding trees in the UK. NALC is working to develop The Tree Charter in the interest of local councils. NALC aim to have guidance for key local council practices included in the charter when it launches on 6 November 2017, such as advice on tree policy in neighbourhood plans.
Pictured is the winner of the survey prize draw, Paul Matcham. Paul is Tree Warden at Todber Parish Council, North Dorset. His completed survey was picked at random from all respondents to win the iPad Mini.
Over 1,280 local councils responded to the survey from all across the UK. Since the survey, an impressive 76 local councils have since signed up to become Charter Branches for the Tree Charter.
85% of respondents indicated trees bring one or more benefits to their community. This result is supported by hundreds of open texts describing these benefits and values, aligning with the principles of the Tree Charter.
Just under half (48.5%) of respondents thought their local council’s current knowledge was adequate for its role while 33.2% indicated their knowledge was inadequate. This mixed picture is explained by respondents reporting the prior experience of one or more of their council members or local volunteers as the source of their knowledge regarding trees. A proportion of councils (c. 15%) reportedly had inadequate knowledge because they lacked such experience. The Tree Charter may reduce this inconsistency by being a trustworthy online resource connecting local councils to expert advice regarding tree planting, management and protection.