Tree volunteers call for more help to galvanise Londoners to cherish their treescape
Volunteers who champion London trees need more support to continue to make a difference to the capital’s treescape. That’s the message that came out strongly from the first pan-London get-together of Tree Council Tree Wardens with Trees for Cities volunteers.
At a conference held to celebrate the first year of the Londoners Love Trees initiative, they highlighted the importance of training to help them become even more effective and to increase their number. They also called for politicians, local authorities and tree professionals to listen more to the concerns of volunteers, work constructively with them and understand their value to the environment.
As representatives of the growing band of Londoners Love Trees volunteers who have committed thousands of hours to planting, surveying and caring for trees during the year, they were asked for their thoughts and aspirations to help build on the year’s successes and encourage people to do more for the capital’s treescape.
The celebratory conference, held at leafy Kew Gardens, was organised by conservation charity The Tree Council with the London Tree Officers Association and Trees for Cities – partners in the Londoners Love Trees initiative funded by Mayor Boris Johnson’s Team London programme to mobilise an army of volunteers to improve life in the capital.
“Thanks to the backing we’ve had from the Mayor’s Team London programme, we’ve been able to combine forces and build up a really enthusiastic band of Londoners Love Trees volunteers,” explained Tree Council programme director Margaret Lipscombe.
“One of the messages that we got from the conference is how much everyone valued being part of a wider movement, and working together with like-minded people for London’s trees.
“Many volunteers have got drawn in by the chance to get involved with planting – ranging from street trees to orchards. The result is thousands of new trees through the initiative, which is a really great way of doing something active for your neighbourhood, and volunteers have called for more tree planting events.
“However, for some people this is proving a pathway to a wider demonstration of their passion for trees and there has been a big demand for the Tree Warden training workshops we’ve been able to run to increase volunteers’ knowledge and skills, thanks to the Team London funding. The result has been to increase the number of effective volunteer Tree Wardens across the capital at a time when local government cuts are beginning to affect the resources that can be devoted to trees.”
The volunteers, the majority of whom are of working age, say they need the training to take place during evenings and weekends in order to channel their enthusiasm effectively. Already many have sampled the training provided by The Tree Council. This has covered such topics as tree identification and trees and the law, as well as the best ways to plant and care for trees so that they thrive in a challenging urban environment. Suggestions from the volunteers themselves for future topics include guidance on how to monitor street trees and to identify – and report – pests and diseases affecting them.
“We think this is all very positive, and will continue to do what we can to keep up the momentum. But whether it’s more tree planting or more training, we are going to need funding to give these passionate volunteers the support they really need,” said Margaret Lipscombe.