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Tree Charter: a voice for trees and people

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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.

charter-of-the-forest-1217

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:

Ode to the saw

January 11, 2017

Gabriel Hemery

Living Woods Magazine

This article first appeared in the Living Woods Magazine, Winter 2016.

Living Woods Magazine

Living Woods Magazine

British children learn about tropical rainforests and deforestation in schools, as part of the national curriculum, but are taught virtually nothing about our own forests. In an increasingly urban world most young people, except those fortunate enough to experience Forest School, will leave education with little understanding of the natural world round them. It’s perhaps unsurprising therefore that the sound of a chainsaw in a British woodland is often associated with destruction rather than rejuvenation.

I’m increasingly convinced by the power of art, in all forms, in helping tackle what Richard Louv coined ‘nature deficit disorder’. I’ve run a number of projects at Sylva Foundation (which I co-founded in 2009), for example the OneOak project, that have combined science and art to introduce forestry to wider society. On a personal level I’ve chosen to write widely on the subject, both in my forestry blog and in books; my first being The New Sylva, Bloomsbury Publishing 2014.

My latest book is an eco-parable short story, and a sequel to Jean Giono’s 1954 classic The Man Who Planted Trees and Grew Happiness. Giono aimed to popularise tree planting, and his allegorical story contrasted the benefits of environmental restoration with the futility and destructiveness of war. His popular book certainly played a part in helping make tree planting not just a social norm but a ‘good thing’ celebrated by individuals and families, and corporates looking for good PR. Yet 60 years later harvesting trees is still associated with exploitation and destruction.

My aim in writing The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life is to help illustrate how foresters care for woodlands over multiple generations, and explain how managing forests and harvesting trees can equal good environmental stewardship. I include a short poem in the foreword Philosophy is Forestry’s Child, and the Sustainable Forestry Song in the back of the book, which I’ve had fun developing in the classroom.

Gabriel Hemery’s new book The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life is available as an ebook on Amazon. Read more at www.GabrielHemery.com/books

 

Philosophy is forestry’s child

When a tree falls in a lonely forest, does it make a sound?
It rings in the labouring forester’s ear,
Yet resonates for all the human race
In nature, so much more profound.

Can we love a forest, yet fell a tree?
The forester sees beyond herself.
Harvesting one, breathes life into more;
More trees, more life, and a future for you and me.

Ask not which came first, the acorn or the oak.
We came as children of the forest;
First our wooden cradle, then our kindling for industry.
Instead think forward — trees will shelter us from ourselves.

 

Gabriel Hemery, December 2016


My thanks to Living Woods Magazine for granting permission to republish my article here.

Review of Arboreal in Nature

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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

Top tree and wood books 2016

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2016 has been a rich sylvan literary year, and for the first time I include some fiction too. Hopefully there’s something here to cater for all interests. In no particular order, these are the tree and wood books that have informed and delighted, surprised and shocked me in 2016. 

Ladders to heaven by Mike Shanahan

Ladders to heaven by Mike Shanahan

Ladders to heaven: how fig trees shaped our history, fed our imaginations and can enrich our future. By Mike Shanahan. Unbound Books. ISBN-1783522364.

The author romps through the history, biology and culture surrounding fig trees with style. Writing fact-packed non-fiction in a way which captivates and enthrals, in language that is accessible to a wide audience, Shanahan reveals a masterful touch. A highly recommended insight into an amazing tree genus.

The wood for the trees by Richard Fortey

The wood for the trees by Richard Fortey


The wood for the trees: a long view of nature from a small wood. By Richard Fortey. William Collins. ISBN-0008104662.  

I had the privelege of sharing the stage with Fortey earlier this year. He writes as he speaks, with quiet unassuming authority in a way that quickly beguiles. The purchase of his own small woodland in the Chilterns prompted him to step from geological history to living nature, a task he achieves with aplomb. We’re fortunate he chose to share his journey of natural history discovery with us.  

The long, long life of trees by Fiona Stafford

The long, long life of trees by Fiona Stafford

The long, long life of trees. By Fiona Stafford. Yale University Press. ISBN-0300207336. 

Delving into the arboreal lives of 17 British trees species, Stafford guides the reader through a sylvan spectacle. Skilfully written the easy prose explores the lives of trees in multiple dimensions. Shame that more species  are not covered, especially walnut, but then I’m biased on that subject. 

The trees by Ali Shaw

The trees by Ali Shaw

The trees. By Ali Shaw. Bloomsbury Paperbacks. ISBN-1408862301. 

A Hitchcockian rustle through a menacing sylvan world. The premise of this book – where trees take over the world – is a refreshing dystopian approach. Surely the best book cover in this list – gorgeous art. 

Trees Ex Libris by Jovis Glans

Trees Ex Libris by Jovis Glans


Trees Ex Libris: a collection of environmental erotica. By Jovis Glans. Environmental Erotica Press. ASIN-B01KR7VAF4. 

I was sent this e-book by the publisher, and I’d never have discovered it otherwise. It’s a book about tree sex, yes you read that correctly, tree sex! For originality alone it deserves inclusion but don’t expect lessons in tree biology. This is no holds barred erotic fiction, and I mean no holds barred. It’s actually intelligently written, even if filthy. Adults only. Available only in e-book format from Amazon

Arboreal: a collection of words from the woods

Arboreal: a collection of words from the woods

Arboreal: a collection of words from the woods. Edited by Adrian Cooper. Little Toller Books. ISBN-9781908213419. 

I’m not so vain as to include my own book in a top list of tree books but I hope I’ll be forgiven for including an anthology in which I’m one of many among dozens of contributing authors. Richard Mabey, Germaine Greer, Ali Smith, Simon Armitage, and George Peterken are just a few of the headline contributors. Hotly anticipated and does not disappoint. A wonderful collection of diverse arboreal prose. 

The man who made things out of trees by Robert Penn

The man who made things out of trees by Robert Penn

The man who made things out of trees. By Robert Penn. Penguin. ISBN-0141977515.

Robert Penn follows the story of the felling of an ash tree in the Welsh Black Mountains and the conversion of its timber to a myriad of wooden wonders. Everyone will learn something from this fabulous book, which captures the beauty and utility of this graceful yet threatened tree species.  Delighted that the Sylva Foundation OneOak project so inspired you Rob!

Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting

Norwegian Wood by Lars Mytting

Norwegian Wood: chopping, stacking and drying wood the Scandinavian way.  By Lars Mytting. MacLehose Press. ISBN-0857052551. 

A lyrical treatise on firewood that has captured the imaginations of those that never thought wood could be so interesting. The oldest book on this list (October 2015) but impossible to omit. Prepare to be surprised, amused and educated. 

Essential woodworking hand tools by Paul Sellers

Essential woodworking hand tools by Paul Sellers

Essential woodworking hand tools. By Paul Sellers. Rokesmith Ltd. ISBN-0993442307. 

Sticking with the wood theme, I’m lucky enough to know Paul quite well and to have witnessed his craft. What comes through in this hefty tome is not just his craft in great detail, but his zeal for passing on his skills to others. He likes the ‘amateur’ moniker which I can understand as his informative approach is down-to-earth and accessible, but never confuse the term with unskilled! This book is a woodworking bible. Available from Rokesmith direct


Read more about my books

The man who harvested trees and gifted life by Gabriel Hemery

The man who harvested trees and gifted life by Gabriel Hemery


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. Available as an e-book on Amazon

An hommage to Jean Giono

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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

Philosophy is forestry’s child

October 1, 2016

Gabriel Hemery

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

It’s just one week to go until my new book is released on Amazon. The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life is a sequel to Jean Giono’s 1954 classic masterpiece The Man Who Planted Trees and Grew Happiness.

In the Foreword I write:

“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.”

I also include a short poem: ‘Philosophy is forestry’s child’:

Philosophy is forestry’s child

When a tree falls in a lonely forest, does it make a sound?
It rings in the labouring forester’s ear,
Yet resonates for all the human race
In nature, so much more profound.

Can we love a forest, yet fell a tree?
The forester sees beyond herself.
Harvesting one, breathes life into more;
More trees, more life, and a future for you and me.

Ask not which came first, the acorn or the oak.
We came as children of the forest;
First our wooden cradle, then our kindling for industry.
Instead think forward — trees will shelter us from ourselves.

Gabriel Hemery, September 2016
Oxford, England

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life - view on Amazon

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life – view on Amazon

Gabriel Hemery on Amazon

Read more and purchase on Amazon. Available now for pre-order.

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