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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:

The Man Who Harvested Trees and Gifted Life

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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

Environmental change: awareness, actions, aspirations

September 1, 2015

Gabriel Hemery

Environmental change is impacting Britain’s trees and forests with increasing frequency and severity, caused by human influences and/or natural ecological processes.

Somerset owner William Theed replanted with different conifer species when Japanese larch in his woodland was the first in the UK attacked by Phytophthora ramorum. Photo Gabriel Hemery.

An important national survey about environmental change is seeking to explore awareness, actions and aspirations among all those who care for trees. It is open until 15th September and I encourage all those with a deep interest or professional connection with trees and forestry to take part.

If you can spare about 20 minutes you will be guided through a set of questions tailored to your role (namely woodland owner, professional forester or arboriculturist, tree nursery owner etc.). These cover the following broad themes:

  • What do you think about environmental change?
  • Have you been affected by environmental change?
  • What are you doing about making our trees and forests more resilient to environmental change?

Survey co-ordinators the Sylva Foundation report that over 1000 responses have been received to date (see Twitter), which is impressive, but more responses will mean more powerful science and better informed policies. This is an opportunity for many new voices to be heard on a very important subject.

Please take the survey


More about the British Woodlands Survey 2015

The national survey is aiming is to help understand progress in awareness and actions in adapting to environmental change among woodland owners and managers (including agents), tree nursery businesses, and forestry professionals.

The information gathered will be used by organisations, policy makers and researchers to help improve the resilience of the nation’s forests. The results will inform the government’s National Adaptation Programme.

The British Woodlands Survey 2015 on Resilience is supported by a very wide number of organisations, with funding provided by the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust. It is hosted and co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation.

The survey is live from July 31st to September 15th 2015.

Take the survey: www.sylva.org.uk/bws

Ash dieback spreads in British countryside

October 25, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Chalara fraxinea ash dieback distribution map in Britain

Ash dieback caused by the pathogenic fungus Chalara fraxinea has been confirmed on woodland trees in the British countryside.

In this case I am not happy in being proven correct in my prediction of just two days ago, see Ash dieback could devastate Britain’s landscape, that the disease was in all likelihood already loose way beyond the tree nurseries where it was first reported. As Britain’s third most common tree species, the consequences are indeed very serious.

The outbreak in East Anglia was confirmed today by plant scientists from the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera). Ash dieback Chalara fraxinea was found at two separate sites: (1) the Woodland Trust’s Pound Farm woodland in Suffolk, and (2) Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Lower Wood nature reserve near Ashwellthorpe. These are the first confirmed reports following the initial import of the disease on plants brought in from the continent by a Buckinghamshire nursery, which subsequently distributed ash plants to some 90 customers across the country. The location of these initial plantings is not public knowledge.

Download the latest national map of confirmed Chalara outbreak sites

Download the latest national map of confirmed Chalara outbreak sites from the Forestry Commission

[UPDATE] I prepared initially my own Google map to mark these first countryside outbreaks. The Forestry Commission have subsequently been releasing a national map of confirmed outbreak sites on a regular basis, so instead I now provide a link to their online map here (it is quite a large pdf file so allow some time for it to download).

Gabriel Hemery


Read more:

Trees are in our blood

July 4, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Our Forests member Jonathon Porritt, explains why he thinks it is that we love our forests and trees so much we are willing to fight to protect them. Watch the film.

Our Forests responds to IPF report

July 4, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Our Forests has issued a short response to the Independent Panel on Forestry’s report issued earlier today.

Robin Maynard, coordinator, Our Forests said,

“The Panel’s report offers reassurance on many, but not all, of the concerns of Our Forests and the many grassroots campaigners and forest community groups who stood up for their patch of our public woods and forests – forcing the Government to halt its disposal plans.
It is particularly welcome to see our number one demand endorsed by the Panel – namely, full and lasting protection for our public woods and forests – in their proposal that the Public Forest Estate be held in trust for the nation under a new public ‘Charter’. Yet despite making several references and citing strong evidence as to the tremendous ‘value for money’ of the Public Forest Estate in delivering public goods and services, some worrying language has slipped in – bearing the hallmark of the free-market ideologues in the Cabinet Office and Treasury.”

The response reviews in outline how the recommendations of the panel may meet the six demands put to Government by Our Forests.

Our Forests view on independent panel on forestry reportRead the statement from Our Forests

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