On Tuesday 6th April the 2nd Tree Hour webinar took place, chaired by Bridget Fox, Regional External Affairs Officer at the Woodland Trust. The speakers were Simon Needle, Principal Arboriculturist at Birmingham City Council; and Mac McDermott and Steve Watson, members of the Birmingham Tree People.

Birmingham Tree People is a group of tree wardens who aim to plant, protect, and promote trees and the urban forest. The group are the eyes and ears for the Birmingham community and the Birmingham City Council officers.

Attended by 44 participants, the Tree Hour webinar introduced Birmingham’s initiative of producing an Urban Forest Master Plan, the first of its kind in the UK, in recognition of its Tree City of the World status

The current nationwide drive to plant as many trees as possible, fuelled by government initiatives, often misses considerations for aftercare. Yet tree establishment and aftercare are critical for ensuring that trees deliver long term benefits for their environment and communities.

On that note, the speakers introduced the New Tree Re-Inventory Protocol, initially produced by the Bloomington Urban Forestry Research Group in the USA, which they adapted to the UK conditions. The protocol provides tree-planting organisations of all types with standardised methods to re-inventory their recently planted trees. This means organisations can not only track tree success (survival and growth), but also gather information on the local environment that influences tree success. The Protocol is informed by research on factors related to urban tree growth and mortality, as well as existing urban forest inventory protocols and standards.

Whilst Birmingham Tree People and Birmingham City Council are using the New Tree Re-Inventory Protocol to survey street trees as part of a joint initiative with the highways’ contractor, in Rother the protocol is going to be used to survey trees in the green spaces and parks owned and managed by the Rother District Council.

This important project is going to be delivered in Rother with the help of Bob Robinson, an MSc student from University of Brighton who is hosted by Rother District Council as part of a student placement. The MSc student and the council’s Tree Officer visited Birmingham early in April to receive training on the surveying methods and data collection from Birmingham Tree People.

Steve Watson from Birmingham Tree People said:

Birmingham city council is pleased to share our experience with a “tree student” and a professional tree manager.

We are developing this US sourced approach and are finding a need to adapt the criteria to a UK situation. This appears to be a difference in space related issues with respect to the street trees. It will interesting to get information on a large metropolitan situation compared to smaller conurbations. We also hope that the increased use of tools to give respect to the financial asset of trees will contribute to saving more of them from less benign interests. “

Applying the protocol will allow the Rother District Council to effectively and systematically evaluate the survival, growth, and condition of these newish trees. Such an approach will aid to ensure that newly planted trees in Rother’s green spaces and parks, as invaluable green assets, are increasing in value over time and their benefits are maximised.

The student visit to Birmingham was made possible thanks to a bursary support from Fund4Trees – a charity promoting sustainable treescapes.

Rother District Council is grateful for the support received from Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Tree People, and Fund4Trees.

Watch our April Tree Hour Webinar “The importance of tree establishment and aftercare after tree planting

Rother Tree Hour webinars are part of the Rother Tree Champions initiative towards building a community caring for the Rother treescape. Partners are the Woodland Trust, High Weald AONB, Friends of Combe Valley, Dallington Forest Project, Bexhill Environmental Group, and Rother District Council.

The next Tree Hour webinar will take place on 1st June 3-4pm on the topic of ‘Managing Dutch Elm disease in East Sussex’.