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Posts tagged ‘woodland’

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:

A growing woodland 2015

July 9, 2015

Gabriel Hemery

The same year that I started planting Paradise Wood, a new forest and centre for forestry research in Oxfordshire, I started recording a view of the former arable farm from the nearby vantage point of the Wittenham Clumps.

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2015 is the 19th year of photographing the same view of the landscape, albeit with some gaps between some years.

My first post about this photomonitoring project provides more information about the location – read more

Yellow archangel

May 23, 2013

Gabriel Hemery

Yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon)

Yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) drawn for The New Sylva by Sarah Simblet. Low quality photograph.

Yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon) is an ancient woodland indicator species. This drawing by Sarah Simblet is one of a series created for The New Sylva that will illustrate some of our most beautiful and iconic woodland plant life.

Hobgoblins and wyches

Gallery
Mature beech tree with box understorey

I was lucky enough this week to be given the freedom to explore a unique and wonderful woodland at the UK Prime Minister’s country residence at Chequers: a box woodland. I was there with co-author Sarah Simblet as part of our research for our book: The New Sylva. You can read more about the visit on our author’s blog at www.NewSylva.com. After my research was complete and while Sarah was busy completing her work drawing a view of the woodland, I had time to explore more of it with my camera.

When first entering the woodland you immediately notice a wall of dark green understorey. Box (Buxus sempervirens) trees of all sizes appear everywhere under the larger beech, ash, sycamore and horse chestnut trees.

Mature beech tree with box understorey

Mature beech tree with box understorey

In places we had to crawl on our hands and knees through thickets of box so thick that they were almost impenetrable. Here and there the canopy opened and the stems of the box were festooned in mosses. In combination with the twisting stems of the box and dark undergrowth, the woodland had the air of a fairytale woodland fit for hobgoblins.

Some extraordinary box undergrowth festoned with mosses

Some extraordinary box undergrowth festooned with mosses

The box trees grow very slowly, but eventually become much larger that you will ever see in park and gardens where they are clipped to small hedges or as topiary. In the wild they can grow to be 9m tall with stems up to 15 cm in diameter (dbh); they normally grow in diameter at a rate of two years for every one mm. Box timber is therefore incredibly dense and is the only wood that grows in Britain that will sink in water.

A large stem of box Buxus sempervirens

A large stem of box Buxus sempervirens – although only 12cm in diameter this tree is already at least 240 years old

Accompanying the box in the understory were many beautiful and healthy wych elm (Ulmus glabra), holly, yew and whitebeam trees, such as this amazing contorted and multiple-stemmed specimen.

Box trees and whitebeam

Three box trees growing next to an amazing contorted and ancient whitebeam tree Sorbus aria

Gabriel Hemery

Drawing the box woodland at Chequers

June 16, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Sarah Simblet at Chequers working on a drawing of box woodland

Earlier this week the authors visited a very unusual and special woodland. Lying at the heart of the UK Prime Minister’s official country residence at Chequers is a woodland of box Buxus sempervirens.

Sarah Simblet at Chequers working on a drawing of box woodland

Sarah Simblet working on a drawing of the box woodland at Chequers

Box is known to many as a small shrub that is used in finely clipped hedges and topiary. Yet it in the wild it will grow up to 9m tall and produce a stem over 15cm in diameter. However, the stems of box grow only 1mm every two to three years; some of those visible behind Sarah in this photo are at least 200 years old, probably more.

“I need not speak much of the uses of this tree, (growing in time to considerable stature) so continually sought after for many utensils, being so hard, close and pondrous as to sink like lead in water.”

John Evelyn, 1664.

We spent a wonderful day in the amazing box woodland. Eventually we found the perfect view for Sarah to draw but not before having to crawl on hands and knees through the dense undergrowth of box stems and branches for some hours.

Sarah Simblet at work on a drawing of box woodland

Sarah Simblet at work on a drawing of box woodland

The authors are very grateful to the Chequers Estate for their permission and support.

A growing woodland 2012

June 11, 2012

Gabriel Hemery

Paradise Wood photomonitoring 2012

The same year that I started planting Paradise Wood, a new forest and centre for forestry research in Oxfordshire, I started recording a view of the former arable farm from a nearby vantage point.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2012 is the seventeenth year of photographing the same view of the landscape, albeit with some gaps between some years.

My first post about this photomonitoring project, in 2010, provides more information about the location – read more

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