How did you spend yesterday?

Yesterday, Tuesday 21st March, was the International Day of Forests.

Did you walk in one?  Maybe you saw one from a distance, or flew over it.  Maybe you have to make do with a few trees – always good for you as yet another report confirmed the other day.  Or perhaps there was just that tree in your garden or on your street. Did you pause to admire the blackthorn blossom, or the hawthorn leaves now emerging (surely too soon).  And were there fat catkins to touch or sticky chestnut buds to steer clear of?

The UN likes these International Days, but we know every day is for trees, and trees are for every day.

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Forest Research update

You can read some of the latest news from Forest Research here:

If you would like to receive the Forest Research e-newsletter, you can subscribe online or send your contact details to:

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Arkive on Deforestation

Bristol-based Arkive understands that the world’s forests are in trouble with the growing human population putting pressure on forests for living space and resources, and climate change is causing serious issues for the forest ecosystems that remain.

Its new deforestation topic page explores the issues that are caused by this serious conservation threat and how it is impacting both wildlife and humans, and how we can help.

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Outbreak of Sweet Chestnut Blight in the South West

We have received news from the Forestry Commission about an outbreak of Sweet Chestnut blight in the South West with notification of four 5km zones that are subject to movement restrictions.

Sweet chestnut blight is caused by a fungus called Cryphonectria parasitica, which gets into the trees through wounds or graft sites. Although oak trees suffer very little damage if they are infected by the fungus, they can spread it, so restrictions on movements of oak material are also required as a precaution.

Sweet chestnut blight was found in Devon in December 2016, initially south of Exeter. The Forestry Commission have now identified another zone in Devon and one in Dorset where restrictions are required.

Read more about how the Forestry Commission are managing the outbreak here:

Further information and a symptoms factsheet and pest alert are also available  to help you know what to look for when inspecting your trees.

Posted in: Safeguarding our Trees, Woodland Management |

Board members needed for the national parks

Natural England is looking to recruit 11 new Secretary of State (SoS) appointed members to seven of the English National Parks and three (SoS) members to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Conservation Boards. These are:

  • The Broads Authority
  • Dartmoor National Park
  • Lake District National Park
  • New Forest National Park
  • Northumberland National Park
  • North York Moors National Park
  • Peak District National Park
  • Chilterns AONB Conservation Board
  • Cotswolds AONB Conservation Board

Natural England is looking to attract a wide range of passionate and committed people who have an appreciation of England’s Protected Landscapes and in particular National Parks/ AONBs as significant national assets, their statutory purposes and be able to take account of interests at both the national and local level. In addition, candidates should have the ability to think strategically and provide advice and challenge in ways which are impartial, creative and focused on finding solutions.  Part of the National Parks 8 point plan, which was launched last year, aims to connect young people with nature, promote the knowledge that they are everyone’s National Parks and the important role they play in serving public health.

A Secretary of State member acts as an ambassador, engages and influences a diverse network of contacts and works collaboratively with all who are responsible for managing the land. To complement the skills of other members, additional criteria apply to some of the member positions – the candidate pack provides full details. The closing date for applications is noon, 22 March.

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A city of trees

The BBC recently reported on an initiative to plant three million trees – one for every man, woman and child – in Greater Manchester over the next 25 years.  Those behind City of Trees hopes the effort will not only green the region but improve our understanding of the benefits trees provide to society.  These include reducing stress, improve air quality and the amount of time shoppers spend in retail areas.

City of Trees director Tony Hothersall explained that the scheme had three main objectives.

“One is to plant three million trees, ie. a tree for every man woman and child, over the next 25 years.  Next, we are very much focused on bringing existing woodland into management because there is no point in planting new woodland if you can’t manage what you’ve got already.  Finally, we want to engage people a lot more in their natural environment; in planting trees; in managing areas; in understanding more about the benefits that trees and woodlands bring to our society.”


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Mapping the Urban Tree Canopy in Cities

MIT’s Senseable City Lab has a project called Treepedia.  This is a map website that catalogues the density of the tree canopy in 10 cities.

Treepedia uses information from Google Street View to create what it calls the Green View Index – a rating that quantifies how green a street view looks according to the number of trees it contains.

It rates street corners for the relative greenery of their appearance, and allows browsers to click on a series of dots that reveal street view images of the location in question.  The result, they say, is one of the most detailed catalogs of urban greenery available.

More detail here.

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The International Day of Forests

The UN’s Forum on Forests is an intergovernmental body to strengthen political commitment and action, and this years’s International Day of Forests is on March 21st.

The website has details of all sorts of activities that the UN is pursuing to support forests; for example both the International Arrangement on Forests, and the Paris Agreement promote the sustainable use of forests.

Sadly, it has to be said that it’s not the world’s clearest website …


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Can we have too many trees?

This is a question that Patrick Barkham asked in the Guardian the other day.  Specifically, he was talking about proposals by the Scottish government to increase the country’s forest cover from 17% to 25% by 2050 which have been questioned by two mountain user groups.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association and Mountaineering Scotland seemed to share concerns over proposals in the Draft Climate Change Plan, which they suggested could threaten the country’s landscape.  As Markham notes, gamekeepers worry about the impact on stalking and shooting, and mountaineers that tourists won’t enjoy endless rambles through woods.  However, Mountaineering Scotland has now said that allowing native forests to return is a positive move.

The Forest of Avon thinks it knows the answer to the question.


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Putting forestry into forest education: FEN conference

Here is more detail on the Forest Education Network conference on March 23rd.  FEN says:

The Forest Education Network (FEN) invites everyone with an interest in forest education to this special CPD event at FSC Bishops Wood Centre on Thursday 23rd March 2017.  Forestry is the growing and management of trees for wildlife, people and the economy; and can be applied to woodland spaces large and small.

Whatever your interest – a forest school practitioner, outdoor learning provider, woodland owner or a teacher – if you are using a woodland area to support teaching and learning this event will build your knowledge of trees, woods, forests, their ecology and management.

The day will feature workshop sessions led by national forestry experts to help you manage and utilise the woodland spaces you use for teaching and learning more effectively. Whatever your level of knowledge, the practical sessions will develop your skills and understanding and signpost the best places to go for further information.

The workshops will include:

  • The woodland ecosystem: tree health, species identification and understanding the ecosystem led by the Field Studies Council and the Forestry Commission;
  • Woodland management led by Sylva Foundation, the Royal Forestry Society and Bishops Wood; and
  • Tree planting and aftercare led by the Woodland Trust.

The event takes place at FSC Bishops Wood Centre.  The cost is £50 per delegate – our supporters have contributed to the costs of this event, enabling us to keep costs low.  All income raised through this event will enable the Forest Education Network to continue its work promoting forest education and supporting forest educators.

This event is supported by the Forestry Commission, National Grid, FSC, Woodland Trust and our FEN partners. The Forest Education Network (FEN) promotes the wide range of learning experiences in relation to trees, woods and forests, and is hosted by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom. More information about the FEN can be found at

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