A new Tree Charter for the 21st century

Child playing in a tree at Hatfield Forest, Essex
Published : 24 Mar 2017 Last update : 29 Mar 2017

We have joined the call for a new Tree Charter to protect people’s rights to the benefits of trees and woods.

Developed by conservation charity the Woodland Trust, the charter sets out 10 guiding principles for the future of trees, woods and people.

It comes after people submitted more than 50,000 personal stories about why trees and woods matter to them. 

The charter, which is backed by a coalition of more than 70 organisations, will be launched in November 2017 – 800 years after King John’s Forests Charter protected people’s rights to access forests.

The new charter sets out 10 guiding principles for why trees and woods matter to the UK in the 21st century. The principles will help conservationists and politicians develop policy and inform woodland management. 

The 10 principles are: 

  • Nature: Thriving habitats for diverse species
  • Planting: Planting for the future                    
  • Arts & Heritage: Celebrating the cultural impacts of trees 
  • Utility & Livelihoods: A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK
  • Protection: Better protection for important trees and woods
  • Planning: Enhancing new developments with trees
  • Health & Wellbeing: Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees
  • People & Access to trees: Access to trees for everyone
  • Coping with Threats: Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management
  • Environment: Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees
The 300 year old Beech tree
Springhill Original Tree

Beccy Speight, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, said: ‘Today, our nation’s woods and trees are facing unprecedented pressures from development, pests and diseases and climate change. 

'Now is the time to create a new Tree Charter, which recognises the importance of trees in our society, celebrates their enormous contribution to our lives, and acts now so that future generations can benefit from them too.’

" Our nation’s woods and trees are facing unprecedented pressures from development, pests and diseases and climate change. "
- Beccy Speight, Woodland Trust

We care for 25,000 hectares of woodland – equivalent to 30,000 Premier League football pitches. Our woodlands are home to rare flora and fauna, and are visited by millions of people each year.

Simon Pryor, our natural environment director, added: ‘To stand any chance of reversing the 56 per cent decline in wildlife we’ve seen over the last 50 years, it's vital that we restore woodlands and enable people to enjoy the trees, woods and forests that are such a critical part of our countryside.'

Tree Charter

Sign up to the new Tree Charter - and help protect trees and woods for decades to come.