A gift to future generations

Jackie Morris Tree Champions

Tree Charter Champions illustration by acclaimed children’s author and illustrator Jackie Morris, based on winning ideas from the Woodland Trust Tree Charter Schools Challenge.

We live in a landscape shaped by the events of the past. The ancient trees and mature woods across our landscape exist because they were planted, or allowed to grow, by generations before ours. The next generation and all those that follow will feel the impact of the choices made today.

The Charter for Trees, Woods and People will be a gift to future generations – but also a challenge. They will benefit from the trees and woods that are protected and planted now, but will also become their guardians.

It is vital that young people today help define the charter, and understand its importance. We are at a crisis point for trees and woods, but it is not enough to act now to avoid losing what we have. We must bring trees and people closer together so that such a crisis is never reached again.

The challenge to parents, educators and youth leaders:

  1. Help young people to learn about the value of trees and woods
  2. Get outside and explore the fun ways they can make them part of their lives

Fox by Jackie Morris

A lost connection

For many adults, weekends and holidays as a child were all about getting outside, climbing trees, getting gloriously caked in mud, and discovering things about yourself as well as the natural world. A stick could be a sword, a magic wand, a witch’s broomstick, or a way to entertain the family dog. A tree was a climbing frame, a hiding place, a castle, or a place to marvel at strange insects and the fascinating textures and colours of nature. Nowadays, young people are spending less and less time outside. The impact of this may take years to be fully understood, but there is little doubt that children are missing out on health benefits, character-building experiences of free play, and first-hand experience of the wonders of nature.

In a recent poll by YouGov, commissioned by The Wildlife Trust, it emerged that while 91% of parents think that having access to nature and wildlife is important for children in general, 78% were concerned that children don’t spend enough time interacting with nature and wildlife. This is backed up by the fact that over a quarter (27%) of children aged 8-15 had never played outside by themselves, beyond their house or garden – and 37% hadn’t done this in the past 6 months.


Young people showing support for the Tree Charter

Due to data protection law we cannot collect names and signatures from under-18s, so we have developed a simple mechanic to allow anyone under 18 to show their support for the Tree Charter in an anonymous way.

Inside your signature gathering book you will find a sheet with a bare tree illustration, also available to download below. The artwork for this is available at large scale if you would like to print a poster sized version or incorporate it into a marquee wall design.

The concept is that someone adds a leaf to the tree as a way of showing they support the Tree Charter. A leaf is equivalent to a signature.

The leaves can be created and added in a number of ways – feel free to be creative!

Some ideas are below:

  • Add a green sticky dot to the tree to show support (available from most stationers)
  • Draw a leaf on the tree with a green felt tip
  • Provide an ink pad or dish of green washable paint for finger-dabs as leaves
  • Provide craft materials (coloured paper, pens, glitter etc) and encourage young people to make a leaf to stick on with blue tack or sticky dots.

After an event or whenever the sheet is getting crowded you can send us an email with a photo of it and a total for the number of leaves, each demonstrating the support of a young person. We will add this number to the total supporting the charter.

If you have any questions about this, please email treecharter@woodlandtrust.org.uk
Young people and the Tree Charter -Explanation of tree sheet




Exclusive Short story from Jackie Morris!
Heartwood is an exclusive short story by Charter Champion, renowned children’s author and illustrator Jackie Morris. Read online or download the pdf version for your e-reader.

Ideas and Resources for Families

Wild Network Wild Time Activities
Ideas for easy, fun activities to make it easy to swap screen time for wild time.
The Wild Network aims to champion, support and increase nature connection by encouraging free-range, outdoor play in children and young people (0-18yrs).

Nature Detectives
Woods are the world’s best playgrounds, so pull on your wellies, grab your magnifying glass and get set to explore with Nature Detectives membership, from The Woodland Trust!
Weekly challenges for families are posted on the Nature Detectives Facebook page.

Wildlife Watch
Find your local Wildlife Trust and contact them for details of how to join, and activities and events near you.
The Wildlife Trusts run more than 240 regular nature clubs for children across the UK, from Nature Tots and Wildlife Watch groups, to junior volunteering groups and regular WildPlay sessions for the whole family. Make new friends, have a go at new and exciting outdoor activities and learn about how you can make a difference to wildlife.
Find a group near you and join in the fun! Find a Wildlife Trust nature reserve near you.

Student council

We partnered with the NUS to engage the 18-25 age group with the Tree Charter campaign. The Student Council is a group of students who are helping to re-engage people with their trees and woods, and promote the Tree Charter.

The work so far:

The student Charter Champions applied for funding for projects which raised awareness of trees and woods, and collected tree stories for the Tree Charter. The projects all took place before the end of February 2017, and the stories were a valuable contribution to the Tree Charter public consultation.

What’s next:

The Student Council will now start to help us gather signatures of support for the Tree Charter. They will also be helping us to write a template tree policy for universities to adopt. What’s more, the students can engage their fellow students with the Tree Charter message, and organise celebrations and plantings around the Tree Charter launch on 6 November 2017.

Join us:

Become a Charter Champion and, with our support, you will inspire your fellow students to help define the future for woods and trees in the UK. There will be plenty of fun and exciting opportunities to get involved in this national project, to collect signatures and produce a template tree policy for universities to adopt, based on the 10 Principles of the Tree Charter.

Meetings take place at different points around the UK, but attendance at all is not a requirement of joining. There will be another meeting in early summer to explore how students can help to gather signatures and spread the message of the Tree Charter across their universities. Travel expenses are paid to attend meetings.

To apply to be a member of the Student Council please email us at TreeCharter@woodlandtust.org.uk

Youth-led project

The Tree Charter project worked with Lyrix Organix to run a series of youth-led workshops exploring trees through creative means.

Each workshop participant had the opportunity to win £1,000 funding for a project which connected people and trees. There were five workshops: music, photography, poetry, contemporary drawing and events and environment. These were hugely successful, and the winners of the £1000 grant from each workshop are now producing their final project work to be showcased in the coming months, each with a mentor from different organisations.

These events, based around the work that the grant winners are carrying out, will collect signatures for the Tree Charter and showcase the work produced.

A poetry event will be held in Bute Park in Cardiff on Saturday 15 April. The event will be a combination of tree walks, outdoor performances, open mic and nature trail – featuring TS Eliot prize-winning poet Philip Gross and other established spoken word artists. The winners have launched a Nature Writing competition for poets to submit work for an anthology published by Long Exposure Press. See the Tree Charter events calendar for more information.

Keep checking back for more information on the other workshops!

Information and Statistics

Wildlife Trusts Every Child Wild report (pdf)

Wildlife Trusts guide to The Art of Getting Children Outdoors (pdf)

National Trust Natural Childhood Report (pdf)