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London Tree Officers Association May 2014-1The chair of the London Tree Officers Association, Jake Tibbetts (LTOA) has warned that pressure for new basement developments in London can compromise existing street and garden trees and make subsequent planting of large trees more difficult. Speaking to Horticultural Week he said that “The construction of these types of basements can impact on existing trees and the current pressure for development is huge. With rising property values and demand for new housing, tree officers are having to fight harder to retain the trees we have.”

While the Town & Country Planning Act affords some protection he pointed out that potential planting sites can be lost where no current trees exist because there is no material loss but inadequate soil depths mean reinstated green areas are unsuitable for large canopy trees. Some LTOA members are working on policy to restrict subterranean developments to 50 per cent of the front and back garden.

Figures published by the Forestry Commission this week show that 3,300 hectares of new woodland was planted in England during the 2013-14 planting season, well below the target of 5,000ha per year set out in the Government’s Forestry Policy Statement. Planting also fell significantly below target in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with total planting across the UK of just 12,800ha.

Wotton

The latest National Statistics on Woodland Area, Planting & Restocking produced by the Forestry Commission highlights the following key findings: · The total area of UK woodland in the UK at 31 March 2014 is 3.14 million ha representing 13% of the UK’s total land area. This breaks down into 10% in England, 15% in Wales, 18% in Scotland and8% in Northern Ireland. · 44% of UK woodland is now certified, equating to 1.38million ha. This includes all Forestry Commission/Natural Resources Wales/Forest Service woodland. · Most of the new woodland created in 2013-14 was broadleaved species. · In addition to new planting 16,000ha of UK woodland were restocked in 2013-14, mostly with conifers. Commenting on the figures, Austin Brady, Director of Conservation at the Woodland Trust criticised Government reliance on private investment arguing that “Central grants will fund a maximum of just 2,000 hectares in the 2015/16 planting season, leaving the private sector to fund an additional 3,000 hectares, for which there is no historical precedent. “Brady also argued that woodland losses are not being recorded adequately, making it difficult to assess the state of new planting in relation to overall woodland cover. The Forestry Commission report can be viewed in full here. (http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/WAPR2014.pdf/$FILE/WAPR2014.pdf)

Farrell Review April 1st-1Sir Terry Farrell has called for landscape to be given a key role in future planning in his Review published yesterday, The report was commissioned by Culture Secretary Ed Vaisey last year as an independent investigation into architecture and the built environment and Farrell concludes that a new understanding of ‘place’ is needed, which brings together planning, landscape, architecture, conservation and engineering professionals in a joined-up approach.

The report recognises that the public realm has suffered under the current planning system and calls for “a revolution in the planning system to make it proactive rather than reactive, anticipating rather than responding to the future needs of our towns and cities.” Farrell has also called for landscape architects and other professional to be involved with reviews of existing high streets, mega-hospitals, housing estates and infrastructure projects as part of a PLACE Leadership Council, and has recommended that a Chief Architect is appointed, reporting to the DCMS and the DCLG.

The President of the Landscape Institute Sue Illman said the report was “a major step forward in recognising the need to fully integrate planning and design” and welcomed the proposal to create PLACE review panels. She added that:

“Landscape architecture addresses both the built and the natural environment, therefore the commitment to a new level of connectedness between institutes and government departments, a theme echoed in our recent letter to the Prime Minister on the prevention of flooding, is welcomed. A considered and integrated approach to how we create, plan and manage places is a highly desirable way forward.”

Farrell said:

“This is the century of global city making and urbanisation on a scale never seen before with an amount of development equivalent to a city the size of Birmingham being built every week around the world. At the same time, a new era of intellectual and cultural exchange between cities is emerging. Our world-renowned institutions, agencies and professionals should be at the forefront of this, while recognising we have much to learn from others”.

To download a copy of the report go to: http://www.farrellreview.co.uk/download

THAPBI 25th March-1Environment Minister Lord de Mauley has launched the multi-disciplinary Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (THAPBI) to support research to better protect woodland from pests and disease. The initiative will generate knowledge to tackle pests and diseases and to support the future health of the UK’s woodlands, commercial forests and urban trees and is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Defra, the Economic and Social Research Council, Forestry Commission, Natural Environment Research Council and the Scottish Government. 

In the last few years, several new pests and diseases have emerged as significant risks to tree health and plant biosecurity. Changes in trade in plants and plant products may also contribute to the risk of new pests and diseases entering the UK. Climate change may also be increasing the risk of these pests and diseases spreading. Seven new research projects will received a share of £7M to help address these threats to UK forests, woods and trees and improve understanding of tree pests and pathogens, and associated plant biosecurity. These are:

Population structure and natural selection in the Chalara ash dieback fungus, Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus – £635,000, led by Professor James Brown, the John Innes Centre

Identifying genomic resources against pests and pathogens in tree genera: a case study in Fraxinus – £760,000, led by Dr Richard Buggs, Queen Mary, University of London

Biological pest control of insect pests that threaten tree health – £900,000, led by Professor Tariq Butt, Swansea University

Promoting resilience of UK tree species to novel pests and pathogens: ecological and evolutionary solutions – £1.4m, led by Dr Stephen Cavers, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Modelling economic impact and strategies to increase resilience against tree disease outbreaks – £900,000, led by Dr Adam Kleczkowski, University of Stirling

New approaches for the early detection of tree health pests and pathogens – £1.9m, led by Dr Rick Mumford, Food & Environment Research Agency (Fera)

Understanding public risk concerns: an investigation into the social perception, interpretation and communication of tree health risks – £615,000, led by Dr Clive Potter, Imperial College London.

Further information on the projects can be found at: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/PreviousAwards/thapbi-funded-projects.pdf

Environment Food and Rural Affairs Commitee alternativeThe Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report on Tree health and plant biosecurity earlier this month has called for amore strategic, preventative approach arguing that “the Government must act with urgency to address the skills gap that we currently face”. The committee warned that the ash dieback outbreak had highlighted a lack of definition of roles and responsibilities in UK plant health authorities and called for improved coordination and collaboration. It also advocated changes in funding for long term research, contrasting the annual cost of tree disease (estimated as £172m excluding ash dieback) with the £5.7m being spent this current financial year by DEFRA and the Forestry Commission on tree health research, a figure set to reduce next year.

Ann McIntosh, Chair of the Committee said: “The Government’s efforts so far to combat plant disease are to be welcomed, but we must strengthen our own capability to predict, monitor, control and mitigate the impact of pests and diseases on plants here in the UK”.

She added:

“… disease risks to plants in the UK are rising significantly but funding for research in this area has not kept pace. One of Defra’s new priorities is to safeguard plant health: long term funding must reflect this accordingly.”

The report can be read in full here.

European Tree of the year 21st March-1A field elm in Bulgaria known as The Old Elm has been voted European Tree of the Year in an online contest run by Czech Environmental Partnership (Nadace Partnerství, NAP). This is the fourth year for the contest which pits trees from ten European countries against each other. Trees from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia, and Wales were put to the online vote having each won national contests in their own country.

Unlike other contests, the age, beauty and height of the tree were not the most important features in the European Tree of the Year award with the focus being on the story the trees hold and their link with community around them. The ‘Old Elm’ of Sliven in easternBulgaria is the symbol of the City and features on its coat of arms and was described as “a speechless witness to Bulgaria’s turbulent and heroic past”.

 

Scotland’s entry, Niel Gow’s Oak in Perthshire, came  seventh. Ireland’s Birr Castle Grey Poplar in Co Offaly came eighth having sadly been blown over in storms earlier this month. Wales’ Oak at the Gate of the Dead, Wrexham, was ninth.

The contest’s coordinator Andrea Krůpová of the Czech Environmental Partnership Foundation said:

“The trees that made it to the final are unique as they are the living eyewitnesses of many local or even national events, and are firmly rooted in the lives of their communities. It is a pity that they cannot tell us about their histories on their own”

 

To find out more about the trees that made it to the final visit the contests website.

Natural Capital Committee News March 18th-1An independent government advisory body has argued that the UK needs a 25-year plan to take better account of the value provided by nature and reverse the decline in the UK environment The Natural Capital Committee (NCC) report claims that current policy on the natural environment is not cost effective and has not worked. It concludes that action must be taken to “put the economy on a sustainable footing within a generation” and that “most of our natural assets will need sustained action to restore and improve them.” It calls on the government to endorse a long term natural capital plan through collaboration between government, businesses and wider society which will better integrate costs and benefits into government policy development and decision-making.

The NCC was set up following the 2011 Natural Environment White Paper and this report builds on its ‘State of the Nation’ report published in April 2013, which presented evidence that better valuation and management of natural capital can secure significant economic and wellbeing benefits. Since that report the NCC has been developing metrics and a register for natural assets and piloting natural capital accounts with businesses with the aim of creating the first set of national natural capital accounts by 2020. By measuring the economic value of natural capital, the NCC hopes it will be easier to factor it into long-term decision-making. This has raised controversy, with some green campaigners arguing that the approach prices up the environment and implies nature can be bought and sold. NCC committee chair Dr Dieter Helm maintains however that measuring natural capital will open up opportunities for businesses and will help to highlight threats to the natural environment prior to implementation of the National Infrastructure Plan.

Read the full report.

FERA Logo news Jan 30th-1FERA has published the first phase of its Plant Health Risk Register to coincide with a ‘Plant Health Stakeholder Summit held by DEFRA, which met this week as part of the process of developing a nationwide policy to the Ash Dieback crisis.

The register is a searchable database of 668 organisms which have been rated in terms of likelihood and impact of becoming established or spreading across the UK. Its initial focus is on regulated pests, those where actions have been recommended by the European & Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation and others where UK action has been considered. It outlines the key features of the pest, unmitigated risk ratings, current mitigations, mitigated risk ratings and actions to reduce the residual risk

The next phase will look at how impacts are measured, the cost and effectiveness of risk reduction and how to address variation in risks over time as well as further refining and expanding phase one data. 

For further details, see https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/phiw/riskRegister

Defra Logo News Jan 13thDefra has confirmed £30m will now be spent in the next financial year to fund planting of new trees. This injection of funds will overcome the Common Agricultural Policy reforms which meant that new tree planting grants were unavailable to landowners in 2014/15. £6 million will now be spent on new planting in 2014/15 and £24 million will go towards woodland management, including maintaining the benefits of past woodland creation projects.

The news has been welcomed here at Tree and Woodland, giving a much needed boost for landowners and enabling projects to extend our woodland cover to the benefit of wildlife, the environment and the economy.

Defra will now approve new applications for planting grants in 2014 and intends, as part of the new Rural Development Programme, to offer grants in 2015 in advance of new environmental land management agreements which will come into effect in January 2016.

If you are interested to find out more about funding opportunities for possible tree and woodland management projects do get in touch with us and look out for our forthcoming EBrief on grants.

 

squirrelThe Royal Forestry Society is calling on the Government and the Forestry Commission to give squirrel damage to trees the same priority as tree disease, arguing that they are a significant threat to the health and sustainability of broadleaved woods.

The Society says that: “compared with tree diseases and deer management, there is very little research, grant aid or support of any practical kind for landowners to control grey squirrels unless in service of protecting red squirrel habitats.” They argue that: “Grey squirrels are doing significant and widespread economic and environmental damage to woodlands with serious long term consequences to for their financial viability, landscape, and ecological value. Grant funding planting of broadleaves without committing to a robust long term grey squirrel control regime is not a good use of taxpayers’ money and is not in the public benefit.”

In a recent survey the Society have found that  many woodland owners are turning away from broadleaved species such as Oak, Beeck and Sweet Chestnut in favour of species which are less vulnerable. This situation has been exacerbated by Chalara which has lessened the prevalence of Ash as a mitigation against grey squirrel damage. It is now pressing for a programme to increase public awareness of the threat to the health of our broadleaved woods caused by grey squirrels and the need for controls. In addition the Society has called for research into more effective methods of grey squirrel control and the causes of grey squirrel bark stripping behaviour, financial support to woodland owners for grey squirrel control and the establishment of grey squirrel control groups to coordinate action.

We recently spotted a guidance note produced by the European Squirrel Initiative which clarifies the law in relation to grey and red squirrels. If you need information on control methods and trapping this is a greats starting point. Download it by clicking here.

 

Richard O Shea News Jan 26th-1We’re delighted to welcome Richard O’Shea to the Tree and Woodland team. Richard is our new Senior Arboriculturalist and will focus on our historic landscape and development site services, alongside tree surveying, hazard tree and advisory projects. He is an experienced arboriculturalist who also has a background in tree contracting and local authority tree preservation work. He specialises in BS5837 development and planning related projects and is experienced in tree inspections and risk analysis.

MD, Andrew Bowman-Shaw says “Richard joins us at an exciting time as we expand the business. We’re seeing increased demand for our range of services from private and public clients across the UK. The appointment of a new Senior Arboriculturalist will enable us to meet demand and further develop the advice and expertise we offer our clients”.

Richard told us “I’m delighted to join the team at Tree and Woodland. It’s a great company to work for with lots of plans for the future. The team work in some beautiful landscapes and on a wide range of interesting projects. I’ve already got plenty to get stuck into with a survey and appraisal of the historic parkland tree stock at the Boughton Estate in Northampton and hazard tree surveys and risk assessments at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I’m also going to be leading on a development project for a multi-national real estate company providing arboricultural input into their masterplan proposals”.

Sounds like he’s hit the ground running!

 
 

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