The Tree Charter

Trees and woods are extremely important – they provide clean air, absorb pollution, create a habitat for wildlife, improve mental well-being, are natural flood defences, are scientifically valuable… the list goes on.  Sadly though, with numerous threats including infrastructure development, lack of protection for ancient woodland in planning policy (only 2% cover in the UK) and increasing pests and diseases, there are just not enough trees in the UK and we are currently not planting enough to replace those that are lost each year.

However, on 6 November this year, which will be the 800th anniversary of the influential 1217 Charter of the Forest, the Charter for Trees, Woods and People will be launched!  “The Tree Charter will set out how people and trees should be able to benefit each other. The guidelines and principles it contains will be applicable to policy, business practice and individual action”.  

The Tree Charter Principles cover:

  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 and woods
  6. Enhancing new developments with trees
  7. Understanding and using the natural health benefits of trees
  8. Access to trees for everyone
  9. Addressing threats to woods and trees through good management
  10. Strengthening landscapes with woods and trees

Over 70 organisations from various sectors are working together with the Woodland Trust to create a future in which trees and people can stand together… and you can be part of it too.  Simply sign the Tree Charter and a tree will be planted!  The more signatures, the more trees!


Rocket Science Experiment

To increase our knowledge of growing plants in space, 8,500 UK schools were given the opportunity over April and May to be involved with a UK-wide live science experiment – growing Rocket seeds (half from Earth and half that have been into space).  

“Two kilograms of rocket (Eruca sativa) seeds were launched on Soyuz 44S on 2nd September 2015 and arrived on the ISS two days later. British ESA astronaut Tim Peake took charge of the seeds and after being held for about six months in microgravity, the seeds were returned to Earth”.

Myself and a handful of others were given the chance to be involved, so over the last month have been in competition growing the seeds at work.  The results will help determine any differences between those seeds that were kept in microgravity and those that stayed on Earth.  We were not told which set was which, but as you can see there is not much difference in size, colour or leaf-count between ‘red’ and ‘blue’ and the only obvious difference we noticed was the fact that the blue set took a couple of days longer to germinate and grow seed-leaves.  For this reason, our guess is that the blue set were those kept in microgravity.

rocket© the Green & the Wild

Once all the data has been collected the results will be analysed by professional statisticians. Leading scientists from the RHS and European Space Agency will interpret the results and draw possible conclusions. An online report will also be made available on the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website from September 2016.