Monday, 11 December 2017

The Tree Charter

Oldest tree in Epsom and Ewell
The Independent Panel Review on Forestry, published in 2011, suggested that there was a need for a tree charter that reflected the modern day role of trees in our lives, and safeguarded access to the trees for future generations.

On 6 November 2017, on the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, the new Charter for Trees, Woods and People was launched at Lincoln Castle – home to one of the two remaining copies of the 1217 Charter of the Forest. It now rests in the Lincolnshire Archives. The Charter has 10 broad threads or principles. They are:

  1. Thriving habitats for diverse species
  2. Planting for the future
  3. Celebrating the cultural impact of trees
  4. A thriving forestry sector that delivers for the UK
  5. Better protection for important trees or woods
  6. Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees
  7. Access to trees for everyone
  8. Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management
  9. Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees
My professional body the CIEEM (Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management)
has signed up to the charter. You can sign your own name or make sure your organisation signs up at https://treecharter.uk/

Trees outside of woodlands are important for landscape connectivity. There are many examples of species not crossing gaps between trees where certain thresholds are reached. Early research by Phil Richardson suggests some bat species would not cross gaps of  >10m. A recent paper on open access from science direct: Tree loss impacts on ecological connectivity: developing models for assessment by R.C. Henry (Ecological Informatics 2017 42:90-99 asserted that removing 60% of roadside trees decreased the number of successful dispersers by 17%.

Bill Downey from Butterfly Conservation
Searching for Brown hairstreak eggs
Many of the less common  species - including some recorded on Epsom Common - travel along the Hogsmill Corridor by virtue of this connectivity. The south-facing stands of blackthorn at Tolworth Court Farm Fields are a hotspot for brown hairstreak eggs, which appear like a small sea urchin in a node of the lower portion of the blackthorn.

Brown hairstreak egg
Purple hairstreak egg

 Purple hairstreak eggs, which can be located in the terminal buds of oak, also have a spiny appearance. A very good haul of eggs was found - 120 Brown Hairstreak, 12 Blue-bordered Carpet moth; and 7 Purple Hairstreak eggs.

Bill told us that the haul of 120 eggs is only equalled by a site regularly surveyed  in the Weald – which is the stronghold area for the Brown Hairstreak. The survey today clearly shows what an important site Tolworth Court Farm is for this UK BAP species.


Dormice are also dependent on landscape connectivity as well as healthy woodland compartments. It was great to know that yet another dormouse was found in November in the nearby borough of Epsom and Ewell. This time at Horton CP, which is contiguous with Kingston's Castle Hill LNR. Could we have the makings of a dormouse project in the borough?

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