Skip to content

Posts from the ‘feature’ Category

Tree Charter: a voice for trees and people

Charter for Trees, Woods and People

Our life on Earth is entwined with trees, even if we’re not always aware of their importance. It often takes a special moment for us remember the significance of something we can so easily take for granted. The Year 2017 is one such moment for trees and forests in the UK, this being the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest.

In 1217, all of the rules contained in the 1215 version of Magna Carta which related to forests were defined in a separate dedicated charter called the Charter of the Forest.


The National Archives provide a simplified transcript:

Edward by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Guyan, to all to whom these presents shall come, sends greeting: we have seen the charter of the Lord Henry our father, sometime King of England, concerning the Forest in these words. Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Guyan and Earl of Anjou, to all archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justicers, foresters, sheriffs, provosts, officers, and to all his bailiffs, and faithful subjects which shall see this present charter, greeting. For the honour of Almighty God, and for the salvation of our soul and the souls of our ancestors and successors, to the advancement of Holy Church, and amendment of our realm, we have, of our mere and free will have given and granted, to all archbishops, bishops, earls, barons and to all of this our realm, these liberties, following, to be kept in our kingdom of England forever.

(1) First, we order that all lands which became forest under King Henry II, our grandfather, shall be examined by good and lawful men; and if these investigations find that Henry II created forest on land that did not rightfully belong to the king, this land shall no longer be considered forest.

(9) And if the swine of any freeman sleeps one night within our forest, he should not lose any of his property as punishment.

(10) Henceforth, no man shall lose his life or suffer the amputation of any of his limbs for killing our deer. If any man is convicted of killing our deer, he shall pay a grievous fine, but if he is poor and has nothing to lose, he shall be imprisoned for a year and a day. After the year and a day expired, if he can find people to vouch for him, he shall be released; if not, he shall be banished from the realm of England.

More than 50 organisations representing a wide range of interests—led by Woodland Trust—are standing together during 2017 to call for a new charter which is called the Charter for Trees, Woods and People.

Through collecting stories about what trees and woods mean to people, the movement is building a picture of their value to everyone in the UK.  These stories will be used to create a set of guiding principles, around which the Charter will be written. The final Charter for Trees, Woods and People will influence policy and practice and celebrate the role that trees and woods play in our lives.

Charter for Trees, Woods and People

Charter for Trees, Woods and People

The new Charter for Trees, Woods and People will launch on November 6th 2017, the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest. Before this there will more and more activities getting underway with opportunities for everyone to get involved.

Get involved:

Review of Arboreal in Nature

Arboreal: a collection of new woodland writing. Little Toller Books. 2016.

This week the long-awaited woodland anthology Arboreal was finally released. Edited by Adrian Cooper the book includes contributions from more than 40 authors, poets, photographers, sculptors and others.

Arboreal: a collection of new woodland writing. Little Toller Books. 2016.

Arboreal: a collection of new woodland writing. Little Toller Books. 2016.

The book is dedicated to the memory of perhaps our most famous and influential woodland ecologist, Oliver Rackham, who died in 2015. Two of his best known books, Ancient Woodland (Edward Arnold, 1980) and The History of the Countryside (J. M. Dent & Sons, 1986) helped shape my learning and love of the British landscape while I studied geography at university in Wales, so it was a privilege to be asked to contribute to this anthology.

My short story Don’t Look Back consists of an interview with me taking place in 2050 and I ‘talk’ about the reforestation of Dartmoor in the face of climate change and changing societal needs. The focus of the story is Piles Copse — currently only one of three tiny fragments of woodland remaining on Dartmoor — yet I describe it being at the heart of a new ‘Dartmoor Forest’ in 2050. I wonder what Rackham may have made of my musings!

The book has received a glowing review by Caspar Henderson in the journal Nature:

“Arboreal . . . resembles a thicket of ancient woodland — unruly and pulsing with life, full of surprises and beauty in both detail and the long view . . .”

“The more than 40 pieces by ecologists, educators, photographers, sculptors and writers, are highly diverse. Their common starting point is that the perceptions, memories and imagination of individuals matter, and that without wonder and reflection, research and action are blind and blundering.”

Natural history: Voices from the greenwood. Review by Caspar Henderson. Nature: 538, pp. 314–315, 20 October 2016. doi:10.1038. Published online: 19 October 2016. Read full review here

Arboreal can be purchased direct from Little Toller Books or all good book shops. List price £20.

Related posts/links:

Caspar Henderson

Top tree and wood books for 2016

An hommage to Jean Giono

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted LifeThe Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

Today my sequel to French author Jean Giono’s 1954 masterpiece The Man Who Planted Trees and Grew Happiness is published. My book — The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life — is released to coincide with the 46th anniversary of his death in October 1970.

Of some 30 books The Man Who Planted Trees was Giono’s most popular and enduring work. His simple yet beautiful writing emphasised the power of the written word, and opened my mind to environmentalism, revealing how everyone can help make the world better for nature.

In the Foreword to my new book I write:

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life - read more on Amazon

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

“Giono’s aim was to popularise tree planting, and his allegorical story contrasted the benefits of environmental restoration with the futility and destructiveness of war. More than 60 years later we are following a path towards unprecedented environmental change, and perhaps even greater societal upheaval. At the same time, humanity is drifting ever-more distant from the natural world. Planting trees is now a popular social norm, but harvesting trees is more often associated with exploitation and destruction, even though good silviculture (forest management) is equally important in the care of our forests.”

Jean Giono was born on 30th March 1895 the son of a shoemaker and laundress. He died aged 75 on 9th October 1970, having rarely left his beloved town of Manosque in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department of south-east France. The only significant time he spent away from home was during the First World War when mobilised for four years, two of which he spent at the front, serving as an infantryman at Verdun, Chemin des Dames, and Kemmel. His experiences made him a fervent pacifist, and his strong anti-war stance became a central theme alongside environmentalism in many of his books.

Henry Miller wrote that reading Giono was a “cosmic delight”. His writing transformed Provenance into a place that included adventure, intrigue and passion.

There is a Jean Giono centre at Manosque which acts as a focus for research and dissemination of his work, set in a beautiful historic building with landscaped gardens. Read more

For a list of 30 distinct works, many of which have been translated into English, see: Jean Giono’s works on GoodReads

Read more

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life
The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life. A short story by Gabriel Hemery

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

I’m looking forward to the forthcoming release, on October 8th, of my first short story book.

A remarkable true story sows a seed in a young girl’s mind which grows into a lifelong relationship with a forest and its trees, yet she develops an affinity richer than she could ever have imagined.

The Man Who Harvested Trees And Gifted Life is a sequel to Jean Giono’s much-loved 1954 classic, The Man Who Planted Trees And Grew Happiness, and a compelling short story in its own right.

Written by environmentalist Gabriel Hemery, author of The New Sylva, this modern eco-parable encourages us all to seek a stronger affinity between humanity and the natural world.

Available as a kindle book on Amazon from October 8th. Pre-order now.

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

A short story for Arboreal


Arboreal: a collection of words from the woods. Little Toller Books.

I’ve written a short fictional story which has been selected for inclusion in Arboreal: a collection of words from the woods to be published by Little Toller Books in October.

Bringing together the finest, and best-known, names in contemporary writing, the new anthology explores the many strands of what woodlands mean to us. A landmark publication, it will appeal widely to many readers.

I wanted to create a different slant on the brief, provided by editor Adrian Cooper, to write about a woodland that means something special to me. My story is set in the future, and looks back to the past. My contribution is titled: Don’t look back – Piles Copse, Dartmoor Forest.

More information (and a preorder form) is available on the Little Toller website

London to Paris: a send-off by the new Mayor of London

May 27, 2016

Gabriel Hemery


Some of the intrepid Fund4Trees London to Paris cycling team received a fantastic early send-off by recently appointed Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, last night. The ride proper starts on the morning of Saturday 28th May. The final destination is the 99th French Mayor’s conference in Paris on Tuesday.

The riders posed with Sadiq Khan on the Wandering Tree mural, part of the Charter for trees, woods and people campaign led by Woodland Trust. We are grateful to Craig Harrison, Forestry Commission, for helping organise the send-off, and to Matt Larsen-Daw for the photographs.

Trustees of Fund4Trees will be cycling 285 miles, from London to Paris, to promote our charitable work. The trustees will be joined by representatives of national tree professional bodies. The goal is to deliver a French translation of Trees and Design Action Group’s (TDAG) latest document Trees in Hard Landscapes, which Fund4Trees supported. The ride…

View original post 28 more words

%d bloggers like this: