The Charter for Trees, Woods and People





More than 50 organisations from across multiple sectors have joined forces to lead society in creating a Charter for Trees, Woods and People that will guide policy and practice in the UK, enabling a future in which trees and people stand stronger together.

The charter will be launched on November 6th 2017, the 800th anniversary of the historic 1217 Charter of the Forest which established rights of access and use for the Royal Forests in England.



Trees, woods and forest livelihoods in the UK are facing more threats today than at any time in history, yet are consistently undervalued and overlooked in decision-making and practice in all areas of society. We risk losing trees from our lives and landscapes if we don’t act before it is too late.


What is a charter?

A charter is a document that sets out rights for a group of people. Traditionally a charter would be issued by the government or monarch (as the Magna Carta and Charter of the Forest were), however the Tree Charter will be built from the grassroots up, and will influence policy and practice through people power.

The word charter originates from the Latin word for a piece of paper or papyrus.


What will the charter say?

The Tree Charter will set out how people and trees should be able to benefit each other. The guidelines and principles it contains will be applicable to policy, business practice and individual action.

The Tree Charter will consist of 10-15 chapters, each dealing with a different theme, reflecting the different ways that trees improve life for people. They could include ‘nature’, ‘woodland management’, ‘forestry livelihoods’, ‘ancient woodland and trees’, ‘access for all’ etc.

The chapter themes will be defined by stories gathered from people across the UK showing how trees improve their lives.


What will the charter look like?

The Tree Charter will be a physical document produced in a way that reflects the utility of trees. Copies will be displayed in key locations across the UK.

The charter will also exist on a dedicated website for anyone to access online, with the stories that helped define it archived by chapter theme.

Carved wooden poles reflecting each chapter theme will be installed in public locations across the UK as a lasting reminder of the charter’s existence and of the importance of trees in our lives.


How will the charter change society?

The charter will reflect what the people of the UK want from trees and woods, and will speak for every tree and every person in the UK to ensure that the benefits brought by trees can be enjoyed by all members of UK society now and in the future. If a policy or project goes against the articles of the Tree Charter it will go against the will of the hundreds of thousands of people whose views it represents.

The Tree Charter will set out people’s rights to these benefits and will remind us of the responsibilities we need to undertake to ensure that trees are protected and recognised in the future.

Each year the Tree Charter will be revisited by the organisations and experts involved , in order to assess how well the UK is doing in adhering to its principles. This will ensure an annual moment for the value of trees and the issues they face to be brought to the forefront of public attention, and for urgent priorities to be identified and addressed through cross-sector collaboration.


What can people do?

  • Share a story on the website, at an event or through one of the focus consultations
  • Collect stories from family, friends and social media audiences, or encourage people to share theirs on the website
  • Get involved in a local Charter Branch (or start one if there isn’t one) to build engagement with the charter campaign among the local community, and to explore ways to improve things locally for trees and people





Gathering Stories: 2016 – Feb 2017

100,000 ‘tree stories’ will be gathered from people of all demographics around the UK via the Tree Charter website, public engagement events, targeted consultations and through community-level activities led by a growing network of ‘Charter Branches’. A tree story is anything that reflects how trees touch someone’s life, and can be submitted as a few words in a tweet or on a postcard, a longer written story, a photograph, a poem or a short audio or video clip.


Chapter Themes Established: March 2017

The stories gathered will be analysed to identify key themes that will become the ‘chapters’ of the Tree Charter.

Announcement of these themes will be an opportunity to build public awareness of the upcoming launch of the Tree Charter.


Building the Tree Charter: April – October 2017

Working groups of relevant expert organisations will draft the articles in each chapter, conducting focus group consultations in relevant sectors and with relevant audiences.

Artist residencies will run for 6 months (April – September) around the UK, generating work that communicates the importance of that theme, while raising the profile of the charter and engaging communities around the eventual sites of the carved wooden poles.

When the articles have been drafted, the final wording of the Tree Charter will be written by famous authors.


Launching the Tree Charter: November 6th 2017

A national event attended and promoted by the 50+ organisations involved will mark the launch of the Tree Charter. The charter website will be launched and accessible online, and the physical copies of the charter will be installed in key sites across all four countries of the UK.



Celebrating the Tree Charter: December 2017 (and annually)

A day of tree planting, tree dressing and story sharing across the UK at the start of National Tree Week.