The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is one of the 47 organisations taking part in a campaign to celebrate the value of our trees and woods and secure their future by creating a new Charter for trees, woods and people.
The new charter will be launched in November 2017, which marks 800 years since Henry lll signed the original Charter of the Forest. This influential charter protected and restored the rights of people to access and use the Royal Forests.
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 charter, a broader charter that 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.
The coalition’s ambition is that the principles set out in the 2017 charter will articulate the relationship between people and trees in the UK in the 21st century. The 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.
Local groups, clubs, local (parish and town) councils and committees will be encouraged to take part by bringing people together to celebrate the woods and trees at the heart of their communities and help feed ideas and stories into the building of the charter.
The charter will be rooted in stories and memories that show us how trees have shaped our society, landscape and lives. To kick the campaign off, the organisations involved are asking people from all corners of the UK to share their 'tree stories' of treasured or significant moments in their lives that would not have been possible without trees, to help create a charter that reflects the true meaning and value of trees and woods to the people of the UK.
Cllr Ken Browse, chair of NALC, said: “NALC is supporting the Charter campaign, which wants to see the continuing protection, of trees and woodlands in our country. At present there are untold pressures from planning, the natural environment and climate change, which could leave trees and woodlands marginalised in the UK. Up and down our land we call on local (parish and town) councils and communities to share stories about the benefits of trees and woods and why they support them.”
Why does the UK need a new Charter for Trees, Woods and People?
Changing lifestyles, busy schedules, and increased ‘screen-time’ mean more people feel disconnected from nature and what it does for us today than ever before. Society and Government need to stop taking trees for granted, recognise and celebrate their huge contribution to our lives, and take shared responsibility for securing their future.
Trees and woods are hugely valuable for our health, happiness and our children’s development. Only 51% of children achieve the recommended hour of physical activity each day (girls just 38%, compared with 62% for boys)1, and research shows that just having trees close to residential areas encourages increased outdoor exercise3. Other research highlighted that asthma rates in children fell by 25% for every additional 343 trees per square kilometre2in their local area.