Ten guiding principles for the future of trees, woods and people have been drawn from more than 50,000 stories submitted by members of the public and are agreed by a coalition of more than 70 cross-sector UK organisations. These organisations are now united in calling for people across the UK to stand up for trees by signing the Tree Charter and helping to shape history.
The principles will form the bedrock of the new ‘Charter for Trees, Woods and People’ to be launched in November 2017, the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Charter of the Forest. The new charter aims to secure a brighter future for the nation’s woods and trees, and to protect the rights of all people in the UK to access the many benefits they offer.
In November 1217, two years after Magna Carta was sealed by King John, his heir Henry III sealed the Charter of the Forest. The aim of this document was to protect the rights of free men to access and use the Royal Forests. The Charter of the Forest provides a window to a time in history when access to woods was integral to daily life. Being denied access for grazing livestock, collecting firewood and foraging for food was a real concern for the people of the 13th century.
Today, at a time when England may have tipped into deforestation with more trees being cut down than planted for the first time in 40 years, it is essential we act now as a nation to protect the future of trees and woods for people for generations to come.
From community woods across the UK, street trees in our cities, timber in our houses, to many ancient trees and woods with historical and cultural connections, trees and woods play an important part in our lives, but more woods are under threat than ever before.
Whereas the historic Charter of the Forest in 1217 was signed by the King to grant rights to his subjects, the new Tree Charter will draw its strength from people power, with signatures from hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK.
The Tree Charter Principles articulate the relationship between people and trees in the UK in the 21st Century. The final Charter will provide guidance and inspiration for policy, practice, innovation and enjoyment, redefining the everyday benefits that we all gain from woods and trees in our lives, for everyone, from Government to businesses, communities and individuals.