This independent network was formed in 2011 as a phoenix organisation when the local authority discontinued their support after 18 years because of budget restraints. There are over 30 wardens, with an immediate priority of expansion to give better coverage and effectiveness across the area.
Perth and Kinross amounts to some 5395km2 at the cross-roads of Scotland, from Loch Leven in the south to an overlap with the Cairngorms National Park in the north; from Dundee in the east to Loch Earn in the west. It is split by the Highland Boundary fault on a southwest / northeast axis which shows in the changing landscape from rich arable lowlands to magnificent Highland Perthshire with its uplands and forestry as the land increasingly folds north of the geological fault.
The predominant pattern of trees and woodland was largely established by the 18th century agricultural improvements, and is populated by many grand estates and planned villages as a result. Perth city is the main conurbation, although there are thriving market towns elsewhere, including Blairgowrie, Aberfeldy, Kinross and Auchterarder. Many urban and rural areas enjoy statutory protection for their nature conservation and architectural or historic value, but although the area is called the Big Tree Country, trees themselves are often little valued and invariably felled ahead of new developments. The Tree Wardens, amongst other organisations both local and national, are raising awareness of trees’ cultural and biodiversity contributions. The area, after all, hosts Europe’s oldest living thing – the Fortingall Yew and there are magnificent veteran trees everywhere.
The main challenges for the local Tree Wardens are to promote community input where trees and community orchards are concerned, contribute to the planning process where possible and work with other organisations to raise awareness of the area’s important legacy of trees. Events and training days are held, together with input into practical projects and the preparation of leaflets, etc. Current projects include preparing a Bluebell Trail leaflet, contributing to the Churchyard Yew Project and undertaking Ancient Tree Hunt surveys and checks. A doubling of membership numbers will help expand the work undertaken – with an ambition to one day expand into a North East and Central Scotland Tree Warden Network.
For more information visit www.perthandkinrosstreewardens.co.uk