Founder member and President of the Ancient Tree Forum and Honorary Vice President of the International Tree Foundation. I was awarded an MBE in recognition of my work in conservation especially trees and fungi. I was awarded an honorary lectureship by Imperial College, University of London for my outstanding contribution as a technician to science and education. I was given the Arboricultural Association Annual Award for my services to arboriculture.
Recently Ted was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal by the Royal Forestry Society. He has been named one of the 100 Environmental Earth shakers of all time in the Guardian newspaper in 2006. He has worked for Natural England as Conservation Liaison Officer to the Crown Estates at Windsor and later became and remain their Conservation Consultant. Ted is also a regular writer, broadcaster and speaks regularly at international conferences on ancient trees, pollards, wood pasture, parkland and fungi.
Stefania Gasperini, agronomist and arborist, owner of AR.ES., an Italian company qualified in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. Specialized in tree risk, stability assessment and management of veteran trees. Speaker at many conferences and workshops, board member of SIA (Società Italiana di Arboricoltura), 1st Vice-Chairwoman of EAC - European Arboriculture Council, board member of SAG Baumstatik e.V. and member of ISA - International Society of Arboriculture. She is an ISA Certified Arborist and TRAQ Qualified (Tree Risk Assessment Qualification). With Giovanni Morelli, Stefania worked for many years with Pierre Raimbault and she now is one of the leaders of Progetto 400, inspired by Francis Hallé, a project that will be studying trees for the next 400 years.
Man’s relationship to nature has changed in the short turn of a few thousand years. In the past, direct dependence on the environment, whether more or less "wild" (hunting/harvesting) or "domesticated" (breeding/agriculture), required knowledge based on the understanding of rules and needs which, even if modified, govern the life of both plants and animals. Of this today very little remains; deprived of daily relevance, such knowledge and skills are now lost or in fact relegated to a residual folkloric marginality. From a cultural point of view, however, it is a process dominated by anthropocentrism. For centuries man has placed himself at the centre of creation; the animal and plant worlds, considered intrinsically "inferior" were therefore subservient to the well-being of humanity.
More recently, tree conservation is justified through ecosystem services. These services, however, are translated into a universal language through their monetisation; the maintenance and protection of the tree are justified only to the extent that they allow a direct or indirect "gain" for the human community. In an industry in which the technical knowledge necessary for the good management of trees is now available, it is now necessary to take an ethical step: to give dignity to the trees and to ensure compliance with and respect for them, regardless of their relationship with humans.
In recent years, in Italy, attempts have been made to restore an equal relationship between trees and humans in anthropized contexts, based on the adoption of decalogues for the protection of trees inspired by the principle of contracting: tree specimens are welcomed in cities because of the ecological, environmental, aesthetic, compositional and cultural benefits that they ensure. In return, they are guaranteed inalienable rights. One of the most effective applications of this approach allows limits, opportunities and exceptions to be established during tree stability assessment campaigns by educating citizens to live together with what we call "acceptable minimum risk." The authors will present experiences that affirm the development of decalogues created in Italy.
Neville Fay is founder / director of Treework Environmental Practice and the Sustainable Soils Alliance (the latter a not for profit dedicated to delivering UK soil health within one generation). He is professional member of the Arboricultural Association and in 2009, he was granted the AA Award for Services to Arboriculture. He founded the Innovations in Arboriculture seminar series, is an ICF chartered agriculturist, was past chair of the Ancient Tree Forum and founded the charity Tree Aid. He sits on the NTSG drafting committee. He’s a Fellow of the Linnean Society and of the Royal Geographical Society. He is an expert witness in tree related personal injury and lectures and writes on conservation arboriculture and conducts studies into tree declines and soil health. He co-authored 'Trees: a lifespan approach' and Natural England's 'Specialist Survey Method'.
“Here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life, which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart”
How we learn about trees, as objects with discrete boundaries or as un-boundaried and indeterminate organisms, will determine the quality of our science, our language of trees and how we manage them for wellbeing and longevity. The internal life of the tree is imbued with bacterial and fungal diversity throughout the organism that includes the integral below-ground microbially-rich soil system. Our concept of evolutionary fitness, due to advantage through competition between individual species or due to symbiosis acquired through mutual persistent cohabitation, will influence how we think of and communicate on Nature, the nature of trees, how they age and survive to ancientness. At a microbial level, the incorporation of ancestral bacteria into larger nucleated host cells, marked a revolutionary mutually beneficial innovation – mitochondria and chloroplasts – that would exponentially change species complexity and drive the evolution of the green plant. Whether we experience Nature as integral to or separate from us, influences our discourse on trees, whether they are seen as objects within the environment or agents that influence their environment. This dualism may be inherent to the human condition. Although the invisible root system is where the tree’s symbiotic arrangements principally function, modern arboriculture relies on above-ground symptoms to determine ill-health in trees that suggests pathogenic involvement. This is despite cumulative environmental effects from pollution and other damage to soil structure and health that impairs tree resilience. The search for causative pathogens, while important, should not distract from designing a science to understand the complex conditions that predispose ill-health in trees and disorders of our making. Despite our relative evolutionary youth, we are symbiotically connected to trees in a way that binds our destinies. If we are set apart from Nature, our science and management of trees can have mutual existential consequences. Perhaps the greatest challenge is to experience the true nature of a tree as Dylan Thomas’s green fuse that drives the flower. Is this the place from which we ask the question – ‘what is a tree’?
After gaining an FdSc in arboriculture in 2008, and subsequently an MSc DIC in Conservation and Forest Protection in 2011, Geoff has over 10 years’ experience in consultancy and local authority work and is a certified veteran tree consultant (VETcert). Working with Treework Environmental Practice between 2012-2015, he developed his specialism in ancient and veteran tree (AVT) survey, and worked on research projects investigating AOD, Massaria and tree/soil ecosystem health. As Tree and Woodland Officer for Guildford Borough Council from 2016-2022, he was able to further develop his specialism in, and continue research into, diagnosing and treating declining tree/soil ecosystem health. His new company Treecosystems specialises in all aspects of tree/soil ecosystem health.
All parts of the tree, above and below ground, internal and external, and including the soil immediately around the roots, are colonised by fungi, bacteria and protists. This microbial community is called the tree’s microbiome. The tree together with its microbiome is called a holobiont. It operates both as a superorganism, and within the context of its wider environment, as just one component in an even larger, inter-connected superorganism.
Holobiont microbiome composition is strongly influenced by that of the wider soil microbiome and by air and soil borne pollutants. The tree’s microbiome has significant influence upon proper tree function, including immune and growth processes, and acquisition of water and nutrients.
This presentation will discuss the implications of changes in the tree and soil microbiome, particularly in reference to tree declines, as well as the seemingly exponential increase in the list of microbial tree pathogens of concern, and their generally increased prevalence and impact globally. Finally, I will discuss the tools we currently have at our disposal for positively manipulating the holobiont microbiome with a view to increasing tree resilience.
Parts of the presentation draw upon work presented during a previous webinar given for the Ancient Tree Forum: ‘A hypothesis of oak decline’. The theoretical and evidential basis for this work is explained in more detail in the webinar, which you may want to watch prior to the presentation. The webinar can be found online at: www.ancienttreeforum.org.uk/news-blog/news/recording-now-available-atf-autumn-forum-2021-a-hypothesis-of-oak-decline-3-11-21/
My research focuses on urban forestry and environmental justice, using a social-ecological lens. Additional areas of activity include the role of urban forests in human health and well-being, nature-based solutions to climate change and climate justice, and the use of smart technologies in urban social-ecological systems.
In the realm of environmental justice, my current research is concerned with understanding 1. the nature and dynamics of green gentrification, i.e., the physical or psychological displacement of residents due to local greening activities, and 2. holistic approaches to environmental justice, with a focus on stewardship relationships and uncovering the mechanisms of environmental injustice.
Urban forestry has seen increasing interest in environmental justice in recent years, with urban forestry researchers conducting urban green equity analyses and practitioners including environmental justice considerations in urban forestry policy, planning and management approaches. Distributive issues, such as who has access to urban forests, have gained particular attention, with many cities targeting low-canopy and marginalized neighbourhoods for increased investment and greening. Recognitional and procedural justice have also received attention, although there is less clarity on how to action these in urban forestry.
While this increased interest is a positive development, the conception of environmental justice currently being applied in the field is conceptually narrow, excluding diverse worldviews related to human-nature relationships and the needs of nature itself, and thereby reproducing environmental injustice. This conception of environmental justice also fails to contend with the risks of green gentrification, whereby local populations are physically or psychologically displaced following urban greening that attracts increased investment.
We propose that a more holistic conception of environmental justice, and a set of tools and approaches to action it, are needed in urban forestry to accomplish equitable processes and outcomes in the discipline. Drawing on a broad range of literature from urban forestry, environmental justice, Indigenous environmental justice, political ecology, conservation biology, urban ecology, and social-ecological systems, this research presents a critical analysis of the current state of environmental justice in urban forestry and presents an initial framework to address current gaps in the field. We believe this framework is both more realistic and more inclusive of diverse world views and disciplines and hope that it offers a path toward environmental justice solutions for urban forest communities.
Jessica Quinton received a Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University, where she researched the role of cemeteries in the urban forests of Halifax, Canada and Malmӧ, Sweden. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Forestry at The University of British Columbia, where she researches topics of environmental justice, green equity, and green gentrification. Her research aims to understand the ways in which cities can be greened more equitably.
Our study assessed the distribution of urban vegetation—including trees, parks, greenways, and any other planned or un-planned vegetation—in 31 Canadian cities to determine whether certain social-economic/demographic factors are associated with increased proximity to greenness. Using spatial lag models, Canadian census data, and urban ‘greenness fractions’ derived from Landsat imagery, we find diversity in the factors associated with increased urban vegetation between cities. This makes it difficult to establish a single overarching narrative about the state of environmental justice and green equity as it pertains to proximity to vegetation in Canadian cities. Factors such as greater household income and educational attainment were positively associated with proximity to vegetation in numerous cities, while the proportion of millennials was often negatively associated. Variables including the proportion of visible minorities, Indigenous people, and recent immigrants infrequently had significant associations with urban vegetation. These results highlight the need for planning and management actions tailored to individual Canadian cities to improve green equity for marginalized and underserved groups. Funding for greening initiatives and maintenance; democratic participation, engagement, and education opportunities for residents; urban planning that considers the challenge of greening dense environments; and consideration of potential negative outcomes of greening such as gentrification are necessary.
Dr Nanamhla Gwedla is social-ecological systems researcher with a Masters and PhD in Environmental Science specializing in Urban Forestry from Rhodes University, South Africa. Her research focus has been on the composition and distribution of urban trees between and within towns, and the perceptions of residents and municipal managers regarding these distributions. Her PhD, obtained in 2020, investigated the barriers to, and enablers of tree planting in South African low-cost housing areas and how participatory learning approaches together with community engagement could be viable avenues to change the status quo in these residential areas. Through her research, she has worked closely with local communities, local government, and national government officials in the field of urban forestry and urban greening.
Together with two colleagues from Rhodes University, Dr Gwedla is one of the contributors to the recently published book on “The Politics of Street Trees”. Some of her research is also published in peer-reviewed international journals such as the Urban Forestry and Urban Greening Journal, the Landscape and Urban Planning Journal, the Land Use Policy Journal, the Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution Journal, and the South African Journal of Botany. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow in Botany at the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, in the Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University, South Africa. In this role, her research focuses on health clinic, home, and domestic gardens as agroforestry systems for knowledge co-production for cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge in the cultivation and use of native and other useful plants in these gardens.
South Africa is a country of social, economic and racial contrasts and inequities, the roots of which can be traced back to the colonial and the post-colonial, racist apartheid periods. During these periods, urban black South Africans were restricted to living in specifically designated neighbourhoods apart from white citizens. These areas became characterised by institutionalised underdevelopment, insufficient infrastructure, limited opportunities and deep poverty. Despite the democratic transition in the mid-1990s, the imprints of the previous institutionalised segregation remain visible in many facets of the spatial geography of South African towns and cities. The legacies of colonialism and apartheid remain strongly expressed in street trees in terms of where they are found in the urban areas (i.e. very few in the former black neighbourhoods) and the provenance of prevalent species (mostly non-native species in older areas). Similarities to and reproduction of colonial approaches are evident in even contemporary initiatives such as the national social housing programme, the national Champion Trees inventory and the naming of streets after non-native species. This has translated into apathy or antagonism towards street trees in some regions by officials and the public.
Reg Harris is a lifelong arborist and is the Director of Urban Forestry (Bury St Edmunds) Ltd. He has specialised in working with veteran and ancient trees for over 25 years, including looking after the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest.
A guided tour of postcards (enlarged) of the UK’s most famous tree, the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. The postcards span 125 years and tell a story of the advent of tree tourism, including the people who looked after the tree, early veteran tree management techniques and the long-term effects of compaction on this iconic tree.
Dr Jennifer Murray is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jennifer is a subject matter expert on practitioner decision making in risk assessment, having published extensively on this topic and recently published the first generalist book on risk assessment and management practice and process across the public sector. She has gained over £1.5million in research funding, publishing in peer reviewed journals and practitioner focused publications to maximise the reach of the findings and regularly delivers CPD training to organisations on decision making and risk assessment.
Despite the increased risk in the likelihood of tree failure, there is a dearth of tree risk assessment methods which are supported by observations. There is some variation in tree risk assessment practice, brought about through differences in experience, training and personal opinions of practitioners. This aligns with the psychological concept of “noise”, which refers to the impact of non-relevant information on decisions and to chance variability of judgements and decisions based on factors outside of the relevant evidence base. However, what is not known is (1) what extraneous variables or “noise” influence practitioner decisions of tree risk? (2) are all of these “noise” factors actually problematic, or might some of this supposed noise actually improve risk decisions? Uncovering whether there is tacit knowledge that can improve risk assessment is an understudied but important consideration within the development of risk assessments for any field. This talk will discuss a research project that aims to explore the effect of “noise” on judgements that underpin tree risk assessment and how these affect decisions. In the study we hope:
Keith Sacre has a MSc in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, a BSc in Arboriculture, a BSc in Social Science and a post graduate diploma in management studies. He is currently a director at Barcham Trees. He is a co-founder of Treeconomics, a founder member and trustee of the Trees and Design Action Group and a trustee of the UK Arboricultural Association and is a previous chair of the Association.
Keith has over 30 years of experience in the nursery industry and was the lead author of the UK British Standard Trees: From Nursery to Independence in the Landscape published in 2014.
Keith has travelled extensively across the world viewing both nursery practice and urban forestry management with a particular focus on young trees. He has spoken at conferences in the UK, USA, Australia and across mainland Europe and writes extensively for numerous periodicals and journals.
He has also written and published three advisory manuals on young tree production, management and maintenance.
There tremendous focus on tree planting from both central and local government coupled with increased community activity and demand. Much of this focus is on planting by numbers trees or percentage increases in tree canopy cover. Targets are set such as ‘we will increase canopy cover by a given percentage in a given number of years’ or we will ‘ plant a given number of trees in a given period.’ Such targets are admirable but the effect on the nursery industry has rarely been considered in any detail particularly when considering advanced nursery stock, street trees. Demand for trees has risen exponentially. This paper will explore the ramifications for the nursery industry and the urban forest. It will look at the impact on the supply chain and consider the wider implications for the urban forest considering questions such as the impacts of high demand on urban forest diversity, the impact on imports and wider biosecurity questions, the implications of increased management and maintenance and whether such volumetric targets for tree planting will deliver a sustainable urban forest which is resilient and capable of delivering the many benefits expected. The paper will also explore the advantages of strategic management and long term planning to both managers of the urban forest and the nursery industry when tree planting targets and programmes are outlined and implemented.
Robert Northrop is anextension forester for the University of Florida. The focus of his work involves teaching forest ecology and conservation science to natural resource and landscape design professionals; providing conservation planning assistance to localandstate governments; and applied research into the changing character and ecological function of the urbanizing forest within the Tampa Bay Watershed. Before movingto Floridain 2004, he wasawatershed forester for the Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Restoration Program; an advisor on trees and forests for the Maryland Office of the Governor; and taught wildlife managementat the University of Delaware.
Howell Davies has a practical arboricultural background with 27 years’ experience in tree care, contract management, and urban streetscape redevelopment. He began his tree care career in 1992 in the USA, before moving to New Zealand in 1994. He has a Diploma in Arboriculture, with Distinction and awarded the best research topic for his year. Howell also has an HND from Farnborough College of Technology studying Environmental Analysis and Monitoring from 1986-1988.
In December 2016, Howell took on the new role of Senior Urban Forest Advisor for Auckland Council, and has been busy working in a team of specialists on development of an urban forest strategy for Auckland. This has involved consultation with a range of council experts from the Chief Sustainability Office, Parks, Biodiversity and Auckland Transport.
The Urban Forest Strategy for Auckland was approved by council’s Environment Committee in February 2018. The document was released in March of 2019 and is the first of its kind for the region (and NZ) and is designed to be a high-level guidance and reference document based on research and data analysis.