Tag Archives: planning for woodlands

The Tree Charter Principles

The 6th of November 2017 is the 800th anniversary of the influential 1217 Charter of the Forest.  To mark this, the Woodland Trust is launching the Charter for Trees, Woods and People.  It says that the people of the UK have a right to the benefits brought by trees and woods, and that the new charter will recognise, celebrate and protect this right.  We can all be a part of this historic moment by signing the Charter to show your support for its principles.  The Trust will plant a tree in the UK for everyone who signs up.

The 10 principles are:

Thriving habitats for diverse species

Urban and rural landscapes should have a rich diversity of trees, hedges and woods to provide homes, food and safe routes for our native wildlife. We want to make sure future generations can enjoy the animals, birds, insects, plants and fungi that depend upon diverse habitats.

Planting for the future

As the population of the UK expands, we need more forests, woods, street trees, hedges and individual trees across the landscape. We want all planting to be environmentally and economically sustainable with the future needs of local people and wildlife in mind. We need to use more timber in construction to build better quality homes faster and with a lower carbon footprint.

Celebrating the cultural impact of trees

Trees, woods and forests have shaped who we are. They are woven into our art, literature, folklore, place names and traditions. It’s our responsibility to preserve and nurture this rich heritage for future generations.

A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK

We want forestry in the UK to be more visible, understood and supported so that it can achieve its huge potential and provide jobs, forest products, environmental benefits and economic opportunities for all.

Careers in woodland management, arboriculture and the timber supply chain should be attractive choices and provide development opportunities for individuals, communities and businesses.

Better protection for important trees and woods

Ancient woodland covers just 2% of the UK and there are currently more than 700 individual woods under threat from planning applications because sufficient protection is not in place.

We want stronger legal protection for trees and woods that have special cultural, scientific or historic significance to prevent the loss of precious and irreplaceable ecosystems and living monuments.

Enhancing new developments with trees

We want new residential areas and developments to be balanced with green infrastructure, making space for trees. Planning regulations should support the inclusion of trees as natural solutions to drainage, cooling, air quality and water purification. Long term management should also be considered from the beginning to allow trees to mature safely in urban spaces.

Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees

Having trees nearby leads to improved childhood fitness, and evidence shows that people living in areas with high levels of greenery are 40% less likely to be overweight or obese. We believe that spending time among trees should be promoted as an essential part of a healthy physical and mental lifestyle and a key element of healthcare delivery.

Access to trees for everyone

Everyone should have access to trees irrespective of age, economic status, ethnicity or disability. Communities can be brought together in enjoying, celebrating and caring for the trees and woods in their neighbourhoods. Schoolchildren should be introduced to trees for learning, play and future careers.

Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management

Good management of our woods and trees is essential to ensure healthy habitats and economic sustainability. We believe that more woods should be better managed and woodland plans should aim for long term sustainability and be based upon evidence of threats and the latest projections of climate change. Ongoing research into the causes of threats and solutions should be better promoted.

Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees

Trees and woods capture carbon, lower flood risk, and supply us with timber, clean air, clean water, shade, shelter, recreation opportunities and homes for wildlife. We believe that the government must adopt policies and encourage new markets which reflect the value of these ecosystem services instead of taking them for granted.

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Local ecosystem service maps

Last Wednesday, the West of England Nature Partnership (WENP) unveiled a series of maps that show the most important environmental areas in the West of England.

The maps illustrate how green space is vital for better water quality, local flood protection and pollination, and the maps are designed to inform local decision making and help ensure that the West of England remains green and nature-rich place to live and visit.

The maps, known as ‘ecosystem service maps’ are the first time that nature’s services have been mapped and analysed in the West of England. Ecosystem services are the benefits that people get from nature, such as composting, air and water cleaning services, as well as for recreation opportunities.

The maps were created using over 200 datasets and show where the nature is working to support our economy and society.

If you click here, you can see the WENP website, but if you click here, you get to maps of the woodland network showing the best areas of woodland in the Forest of Avon Trust area, as well as the land which connects them, allowing wildlife to move.

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Targeted tree planting can reduce flooding

A study, led by the Universities of Birmingham and Southampton, has shown that strategic planting of trees on floodplains could reduce the height of flooding in towns downstream by up to 20 per cent.

Dr Simon Dixon, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Forest Research (BIFOR), was lead author of the study.

Using a digital terrain model and a hydrological model simulation, scientists were able to show that targeted tree planting and restoration could reduce flood risk by slowing down the flow of water and the larger the area included in the work and the older the forests became, the more reductions in flood peak height would be achieved.

More information can be found here.

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Forest of Avon Has Taken Root

Idealised Community Forest c.1990.

Forest of Avon Community Forest

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Trees offer a great return on investment

View up into tree canopyMore evidence about the (really) positive role of trees. Government agency Natural England has published a report about the benefits of investing in the natural environment (MEBEI2). The report sets out evidence from a number of studies into the effects of natural infrastructure on health, wellbeing, work, productivity and climate change.

The importance of trees and woodlands, particularly in urban areas, was highlighted throughout the report. Some key points are:

  • “Trees and plants can reduce the need for heating and cooling of buildings, and therefore lower energy costs.
  • “Urban centres in particular may in future suffer from dangerous heat and air pollution. Some of the impact may be reduced by investment in the natural environment (particularly trees).
  • “By increasing infiltration rates in forest soils, trees can have significant impacts on flooding, modelling since the O’Connell review in Pontebren in Wales suggests that in this context, a shelterbelt at right angles to the slope could reduce field scale flood peaks by 40%.
  • “Urban forests intercept rain water and reduce peak run off… Test plots in Manchester demonstrated that over a year, the addition of a street tree could reduce stormwater runoff by between 50% and 62% in a 9 square metre area, compared with asphalt alone.
  • “Trees can contribute to greater hydraulic roughness of floodplains, slowing water flow. Modelling around the River Parrett… found that floodplain woodland could slow water velocity within the woodland, increasing the water level by up to 270mm and increasing flood storage by 71%.
  • “Green infrastructure makes a number of important contributions to local climate regulation… A single large tree can transpire 450 litres of water in a day which uses 1000 mega joules of heat energy, making urban trees an effective way to reduce urban temperature.
  • “Modelling of the impact of trees on a two-storey office building in Scotland found that using trees as a shelterbelt could potentially reduce office heating energy use by 3.64 kilowatts per square metre of floor area (18.1 percent of total heating energy use)… from October to April.
  • “Surveys across 26 different-sized cities in the USA found that shoppers reported being willing to travel further to visit, stay longer once there, and more frequently visit, business districts with trees.”

Read the full report on the Natural England website. Also, don’t forget what you can do locally by supporting the Forest of Avon Trust to get more trees planted and more woodland managed. Details of the great role that North Somerset’s trees are playing in locking up pollution to be blogged soon.

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Exciting Opportunity for a Planning Volunteer

We are looking for a Planning volunteer to:

  • Identify and review the status of references to the Forest of Avon (FoA) Community Forest in the planning and policy documents of the West of England authorities;
  • Make recommendations about where references to the FoA Community Forest would be most effective in forthcoming planning and policy documents and (ideally) to:
  • Work with the charity over a period of time to secure a greater recognition of the FoA Community Forest in local planning and policy documents.

The context for this work is that the FoA Community Forest operated as a formal partnership from 1992 to 2009, during which time Council Officers ensured a range of supportive policies were included in planning and policy documents. On the ending of the partnership, the Forest of Avon Trust carried forward the principles of the FoA Community Forest, but has lacked the capacity to undertake this important planning policy work.

This voluntary role provides a great opportunity to directly support a growing charity and to make use of (and develop) planning policy skills and experience. For the first two components of the role, we need someone with a good knowledge of the planning system. For the latter one, (which could be a separate role), we would also need someone with experience of working in the planning system and with good communication skills. Both roles would need access to a computer and phone. 

Work could be undertaken very flexibly over a period of time, averaging approximately 1- day/ fortnight. It would principally home- based with occasional meetings with Jon Clark, Trust Executive Director.

If you are interested, please email Jon on jonclark@forestofavontrust.org to arrange an informal discussion, or call (0117) 963 3383.

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Why We Still Need a Community Forest

Street and garden trees integrate into woodlands

Street and garden trees integrate with existing woodland, grading to the Cotswold edge. Access links, play areas and open conservation sites extend through this. Farms and woodlands provide food and services for the urban market, with the ‘urban forest’ having the structure to accommodate any permitted development.

I worked for the first Community Forest: the Great North Forest from its beginning in 1990 and have worked in Community Forestry since. I remain strongly of the view that a shared, progressive and long- term strategy for the countryside around England’s largest urban areas is essential. This need not be prescriptive, but should be about a common will to spend time on improving the landscape and functionality of an area, in partnership with landowners, communities and many others.

The Forest of Avon Partnership ended in 2009 having achieved a great deal. Whilst 17 years is long-term in British planning terms, this charity was established to keep the momentum going. It is really heartening to hear Bristol Mayor: George Ferguson, refer to the need for more tree planting (one of our objectives) and cross boundary working.

If you want to help keep the Forest of Avon Community Forest vision and delivery going, email me here with your ideas and/or join us as a Friend (£3/ month).

Jon Clark.

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