In 1217, King Henry III signed the original Charter of the Forest, protecting rights of access to England’s Royal Forests at a time when local people relied on woodland for their fuel, housing, food and livelihoods.
So what relevance will its modern day offspring, The Charter for Trees, Woods and People (Tree Charter) 2017, have to those about to embark on a career in forestry or related sectors in the 21st century?
The Royal Forestry Society (RFS), as part of its Future Foresters project, asked four members of the Tree Charter Student Council who are studying forestry about their ambitions and the issues they see as important for the future.
And it is clear that forestry is inspiring a new generation, eager to make a positive difference and to help care for our precious tree and woodland heritage.
George Dennison, Bangor University, MFor Forestry is passionate about mychorrhizal populations and how trees are connected via the wood wide web. He enjoys travel to visit various projects and to see how environments change. For him the Tree Charter: ” is a very good platform to re-engage the public with trees and forests by reigniting culture which we are close to losing… It has kickstarted conversations and ideas for individuals and organisations to develop upon. It has provided a good foundation for the growth of forestry, in particular ‘social’ forestry. Increasing urban involvement with tree planting projects and simply increasing environmental awareness. Perhaps it will boost individuals participating in forestry based courses, which would be brilliant.”
Sam Hobson, University of Worcester, BSc Arboriculture has switched careers from being an office- based designer to woodland management. Currently an Arboricultural Consultant at Wharton Tree and Ecology Consultants, he feels the Charter’s impact will be felt across environmental and planning policy: ” The Tree Charter could provide a tool that shows clearly what the value of trees and woods are to the wider public in the UK. Not just in terms of the ecological and economic benefits but including the spiritual and amenity benefits that are so difficult to quantify. This tool should be used to inform policy makers and others who have the ability to protect and improve our trees and woodlands.”
Dewi Roebuck , Bangor University, BSc Forestry is hoping to work in forest management in a career which will allow him to travel. For him, the Tree Charter will inspire people to stand up for trees: ” It is going to leave a lasting imprint on people. It’s a way for people to have voiced their own opinions about the UK’s trees, and why they think they’re important, and worth looking after. Combined with the backing of over 50 organisations from different sectors all standing together to call for better protection of trees and woodlands I think the Charter will inspire people to stand up for trees.”
Niall Williams, Landscape Architecture BA, Birmingham City University previously studied forestry at Sparsholt College. He sees the Tree Charter as a platform bringing disciplines together to encourage green infrastructure:“It’s what may come off the back of the Charter which could have the most significant impact. We face a great deal of challenges at the moment, the economy, air pollution, climate change, etc. Green infrastructure has been shown, with increasing evidence, to mitigate many of these issues whilst providing sustainable jobs and an economic return. The Charter lays the foundation for greater protection and creation of new woods and trees. One group that speaks for all on the importance of the environment, supported by economics, science, public health, as well as conservation and professional bodies, is what will keep government on track and will be able to advise and guide us forward.”
Cover photo by Matt Larsen-Daw