Be a tree champion by standing up for trees at a local level

We are contacted regularly by local tree champions who want to protect a local tree or trees. We’re a small team, so while we care passionately about local tree issues, we rely on tree champions like you to speak for trees at a local level. Here’s some guidance on some of the most common issues and questions we get approached with. If something isn’t covered here, please get in touch with us.

Read our FAQs

Some of the most common questions we’re asked by local tree champions.

Download useful resources

Handy resources that will help you to take steps to protect your local trees; from tree planting tips to planning community events.

Share your remarkable trees

Know of a remarkable tree that you’d like to share with others? You can now add your local trees to our interactive tree map.

FAQs

Who are The Tree Council and what do you do?

The Tree Council is a charity and umbrella body bringing everyone together with a shared mission to care for trees and our planet’s future. We inspire and empower organisations, government, communities and individuals with the knowledge and tools to create positive, lasting change at a national and local level. Our aims are:

  • To champion trees in everything we do.
  • To be the trusted voice of the tree sector.
  • To drive practical science and research into our treescape.
  • To enable dialogue and action in the sector, nationally and locally.
  • To encourage, inspire and persuade people of all ages and backgrounds to value and love trees.
  • To harness the energy, enthusiasm and expertise of our team, Tree Wardens and communities to plant, care for and protect trees and make a lasting impact on our world.
  • To lead and connect organisations and, together, persuade decision-makers, influence national policy and deliver local action.

Can someone from The Tree Council give a talk to our local community / school?

Our team of eight is small (but mighty!) As a result we are not always able to attend all the local events we’d like to, however our 6,000 volunteer Tree Wardens throughout the country are on hand to help and advise with all tree related issues and may be happy to attend your event. You can find contact details of your local coordinator, who can put you in contact with your nearest Tree Warden who may be willing to give talks or offer advice. If you would like a member of the core team to attend, please send your request to Sophie Smith at Sophie.smith@treecouncil.org.uk.

Which are the best trees to plant to capture carbon?

There isn’t necessarily one answer to this question. For example, fast-growing trees will store the most carbon quickly, long-lived trees can hold carbon for longer. In addition, new research states that hedgerows can help store carbon in their trees as well as in the soil underneath.

Excessive planting of any one tree species leaves the UK treescape more vulnerable to pests and diseases, as if a disease emerges that badly affects that tree species, it could wipe out millions of trees in one fell sweep. Ash trees in the UK, while a valued and important part of our landscape, are currently affected by ash dieback disease so it will be important to see how the ash population responds before choosing to plant more.

The most important thing is always to plant the right tree in the right place, planting a diverse range of trees and giving them the best chance to grow into mature trees which have the greatest capacity for carbon capture.

What is your policy on using plastic tree guards and ties?

Sometimes tubes and ties are essential to ensure the tree lives and thrives – especially where there are grazing animals such as deer, rabbits and hares. To reduce the use of plastic tubes, recycle existing tubes onto new tree plantings after 3-4 years, by when they have usually done their job.

We are passionate about transitioning away from plastic tree guards and ties and have been involved in trialling other solutions such as durable cardboard tree tubes created by Ezeetree. We will continue to advocate for biodegradable options until they are the standard across all tree planting.

How many trees does the UK need to plant to help in the fight against climate change?

The Committee on Climate Change announced in March 2019 that we need to plant 30,000 hectares of trees each year until 2050 as part of measures to dramatically reduce UK carbon emissions.

Reaching this target will require huge commitment from everyone, from general public to large landowners to businesses to farmers. We also need to establish the right mix of large-scale planting of a broad range of species, re-wilding, planting from seed, establishing and managing hedgerows, as well as boosting and bolstering the capacity of UK tree nurseries. We then must make sure we don’t just plant trees and then ignore them – we need to take care of them afterwards too. Otherwise we could plant many trees that never grow to a size where they capture carbon.

The planting of trees and better care of the ones we have can play a key role in tackling climate change, but it is only one of the actions that we all need to take to address the climate emergency.

How do you spend the money that is donated to you?

We rely on the donations of individuals to support our amazing volunteer Tree Wardens around the country, who plant, protect and promote trees at the local level in partnership with other voluntary groups and their local authorities. Without the generous support of individual donors, we wouldn’t be able to support these volunteers to protect their local trees.

What is your funding model?

In addition to the donations of individuals, we are the recipient of a grant from the People’s Postcode Lottery to develop training materials for our volunteers.

We are also a membership body, uniting the public, private and charity sectors to take action for trees, and these dues support our national advocacy work. We also deliver contracts for organisations including Network Rail and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This work includes delivering tree planting projects, conducting practical tree science and research and consulting work on matters affecting trees.

Isn’t natural regeneration better than planting trees?

The recent public debate about the value of planting trees as a carbon capture technology to help the UK achieve net zero emissions by 2050 has thrown up questions about the value of natural regeneration as a carbon capture tool, to be used alongside or, according to some sources, in the place of, tree planting.

Natural regeneration and tree planting are often positioned as opposing methods in establishing and protecting treescapes. However, both practices have their place and will be important is we are to greatly grow and protect the UK treescape, as well as contributing to efforts to achieve net zero carbon.

What do I need to do to plant trees?

Anybody can help to plant trees, but being prepared is very important. There are a few things you need to consider: for example, you’ll need land to plant on and permission to do so from the landover. You’ll need to consider which species is most appropriate for the size and uses of the space, as well as ecological conditions such as the soil type and level of shade. You will also need to ensure that you have the resources to provide aftercare to the trees you plant in the tender early years after planting, otherwise the tree may not thrive.

While we can’t offer you personal advice on your specific planting plans, take a look at our Tree Planting Guide, which contains all the things you need to think about before you get started.

Does The Tree Council have grants available for planting trees and hedges?

The Tree Council runs several community grant schemes:

  • The Tree Futures grants programme which provides Schools and Community groups with money for tree planting projects
  • Tree Angel School Orchards fund in partnership with the Daily Mail
  • the Network Rail community tree planting fund (more details will be released shortly)

I have some trees in pots / a mature tree in my garden. Can I donate it to The Tree Council?

The Tree Council does not own any land and any tree planting which we are involved with is carried out through our Tree Wardens and member organisations. If you have trees which need a home you can contact a number of organisations in your local area: your district council, community groups, farms, schools, nurseries, garden centres, wildlife trusts, conservation organisations in the area (eg Groundwork, BTCV). You can also contact anyone who is holding an event in your area during National Tree Week who might like more trees to plant. See our events page for details.

Who can I contact to give advice on the health / carry out work on a tree?

Always consult a qualified, certified professional. Our member organisation the Arboricultural Association has a list of suggested providers.

What type of trees should I be planting/what species are good for my area?

The best species of tree to plant is dependent on many different factors, including growing conditions, position of the site, reasons for planting etc. The best thing to do is to look around your local area to see what species of trees are common and thriving. Then you can seek advice from your local nursery or garden centre. The Tree Council book Trees In Your Ground, offers some useful tips on choosing a tree for your space, and can be bought online. If you want advice about the best species to plant near railway lines (and those not to plant) please click here for useful information from our member organisation Network Rail.

Where can I find advice on how to look after my local trees?

The Tree Council’s national Tree Care Campaign, runs from March to September and highlights the importance of better care for all trees, in order to ensure their survival and increase the number reaching maturity. Please visit our Tree Care Campaign pages for more information and downloads on tree care and survival. Please also take a look at the Forestry Commission’s Tree Care Guide.

Can The Tree Council provide help for local tree planting?

The Tree Council runs the Tree Futures grants programme which provides schools and community groups with money for tree planting projects. We sell a number of publications covering tree planting and organising events. On hand help and advice can be obtained from our volunteer Tree Wardens; find out where is your nearest network and its contact details on our map. We have posters to download to help promote your event and we can list your event on our website to encourage participation.

Does The Tree Council have land I or my community group can plant trees on?

We are not a landowner ourselves, and most of our tree planting takes place through the amazing work of our local Tree Wardens and the schools and community groups we fund. If you want to plant trees you can:

  • Become a local Tree Warden volunteer
  • Apply to plant trees, orchards or hedgerows with your school or community group through our grant funding
  • Apply to receive trees from the Woodland Trust or Trees For Cities

Can I donate trees in my garden to The Tree Council?

We appreciate that sometimes trees can’t stay where they are, and as a tree lover you may want to find somewhere else to plant the tree rather than removing it. However it is quite rare that a tree can be successfully moved once it is mature, as the process is very costly and it isn’t guaranteed that the tree will survival the stress associated with being moved.

The Tree Council is not a landowner so in most cases we unfortunately aren’t able to rehome trees. contact your nearest Tree Warden network to find out if they can take the tree, but please be aware that we aren’t able to help you with the costs of moving it. Major tree nurseries tell us that it is highly unlikely that anyone would want to lift and move a domestic grown tree commercially, that is, lift the tree and take it onto a nursery for resale. Other organisations you might contact are:

  • The district council or your local Tree Officer
  • Wildlife trusts
  • TCV – the conservation volunteers

What do I do if I’m interested in becoming a volunteer Tree Warden?

It’s fantastic you’re interested in becoming a Tree Warden! Please see our Tree Warden section which is packed full of all the information you need on what being a Tree Warden entails. On our Tree Warden page, there is a map that has contact details of all local coordinators who can get you started. If there are no local networks, contact the Tree Officer in your local authority to discuss the possibility of starting one; we can also help with setting up a new network.

There isn’t a Tree Warden Network in my area. Can I set one up?

We would love to support you to set up a Tree Warden Network in your area! The first port of call is to contact your local authority and ask them to help you set up a network. Traditionally, Tree Warden Networks were set up and managed by local authorities, coordinated by the Tree Officer, or someone in a similar role.  This person would be The Tree Council’s main contact point with the Tree Wardens in that region, and the council, as a member of The Tree Council, then had access to our support and resources.  However as budgets have been cut back, many local authorities sadly no longer have the resources to manage a volunteer scheme. As a result, some volunteer tree warden networks have set up independently from the council and become members of the Tree Council directly, still working with the local authority but at more of a distance. It can be a little tricky starting out as a new independent Tree Warden Network without the support of your local authority. It often helps if you can come under the ‘umbrella’ of another local Tree or environment group.  Unfortunately, as a small organisation with limited resource, at the moment we’re unable to lobby individual local authorities and encourage them to set up a Tree Warden network of their own. But please sign up to our email newsletter to get updates on new Tree Warden networks being formed.

For more information, visit our Tree Warden coordinator pages.

How do I go about protecting a tree in my local area?

Thank you for standing up for your local trees! Perhaps you are concerned about a tree being unnecessarily felled, or believe a tree or trees needs maintenance. Our volunteer Tree Wardens are local tree champions who often lead or support local campaigns to protect a tree or trees, so the first thing to do is look up your nearest Tree Warden network. If there is a network near you, contact them directly to find out if they can support or guide you.

If you don’t have a Tree Warden network near you yet, we at HQ are a very small (but mighty!) charity and unfortunately cannot get involved in local campaigns, but we suggest you explore the following options:

  1. Contact a member of your local government: The first person to speak to would be the Tree or Arboricultural Officer(s) in your local council. They know their local treescape very well and can help you understand what may be happening with a given tree. If you can’t get in touch with them, or are not satisfied with their response, take it up with your local political representatives: the Leader of the Council, the Environment Portfolio Holder, and/or the councillors for your ward may take an interest in a local tree issue.
  2. Write to your MP: Another avenue is to contact your local MP by phone, email or letter. This is also valuable if you want your MP to represent you on a national issue affecting trees, for example by mentioning it in the House of Commons.
  3. Contact your local media: Your local paper or radio station may like to hear what you have to say, and can help you raise awareness of the issue with other residents. You can also contact local residents’ associations, gardeners’ groups or natural historic societies – anyone you think might have an interest in your issue.
  4. Ask your local authority to issue what is called a ‘Tree Preservation Order’ on a tree, which can give the tree some degree of protection: Your local authority can issue a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) for specific trees. If a tree is protected by a TPO, the local authority’s consent is required before it may be felled or pruned. Trees located in Conservation Areas also have a degree of protection. To check whether a tree is protected, or to protect a tree, you should contact your local authority. For more information about TPOs visit the gov.uk website.
  5. Become a local Tree Warden: Become a volunteer Tree Warden to take further action for your local trees. You will have the support of your network and have access to training, resources and be the first to hear about other ways to support and promote your local trees.

For more information take a look at this guide on Trees and the Law from our friends at the Arboricultural Association.  Our Member organisation The Woodland Trust, has some excellent guidance on campaigning to save local trees on their website here.

Where can I find more information regarding control or conservation of squirrel population in my area?

The Tree Council is a member of the UK Squirrel Accord. We recommend you visit their website for advice and the latest news on UK squirrel management.

Who can I contact about tree diseases?

If you have concerns about trees on your own land or land that you manage, we suggest you consult a qualified tree professional. The Tree Council has guidance available on managing ash dieback disease for tree owners. If you are concerned about trees on someone else’s land, you should contact the landowner. If you’re not sure who that is, try asking your local council.

If you have a technical question about tree pests and diseases, you can contact our Trees Science and Research Project Manager Harriet Rix, or look on the Forest Research website.

What is ash dieback and how will it affect the UK’s treescape?

Ash dieback is a fungal pathogen affecting ash trees. It is the most significant tree disease to affect the UK since Dutch Elm Disease, which claimed 30 million British elms. Ash is the third most common broadleaf tree in the UK.

Ash trees are found as individual trees and as part of hedgerows, as well as comprising 12% of UK broadleaved woodland. Ash woodlands support attractive landscapes, provide valuable shade for livestock in summer and are an important component of wildlife habitat corridors in both urban and rural areas. Ash trees also promote rich and diverse flora, improve soils and recycle valuable nutrients for organisms such as fungi. While ash is the sole food source for relatively few species in comparison with other native trees, 955 species have been found to use ash trees and the habitat they create, 44 of these are totally dependent on ash trees.

Ash dieback threatens to impact these valuable contributions to the UK treescape – but the more planned and coordinated a response, the more we can address the impacts of ash dieback. For more information ash dieback, visit our Science and Research section.

Does The Tree Council offer corporate tree planting days?

Yes, we do sometimes arrange corporate tree planting days (which have to be between November and March as this is tree planting season) but we do not have a simple package for such events. Because we rely on our wonderful volunteers to help us plant trees around the country, each enquiry is treated as unique and it’s not always possible to match an organisation up with a suitable location and volunteer group. Please do get in touch and we will discuss your requirements with you. We can also sometimes match corporates up with volunteers who are doing vital tree aftercare and maintenance during the summer months – get in touch to find out more.

Download our tree facts sheet here