Ever since my involvement with Save Our Woods, there is one fixed axiom as to how campaigning for trees can work: It has to come from the heart and this, of course, requires initial action from the people who live where the trees are threatened. This is as true for those campaigning in the Amazon to those fighting for their street trees in Sheffield.
And since closely following tree and forest related issues – particularly protests from around the world, there is another factor that always seems to appear: Whenever many organisations, governmental or NGO, get ‘involved’ things start to go awry – the wheel gets reinvented, renamed and it all just flows away at considerable cost.
‘Top down’ just doesn’t work. It has to be ‘bottom up’. People have to be listened to – not merely seeking the best quotes for a forthcoming glossy publication, that is so rapidly forgotten about.
I have had the privilege of meeting many ‘tree professionals and campaigners’ who help considerably by understanding the above and then working with the communities affected, wherever in the world, by simply heading them in the right direction as and when needed.
With social media it is increasingly easy to meet these people and it always amazes just how many positive local projects and initiatives there are going on. But so, so often these projects are usurped – amalgamated – and then lost.
The facts speak for themselves: Despite all the calls for tree planting, there are less trees being planted and more being cut down – year after year we are losing more trees than the previous year. And not only are we planting less and UK tree nurseries are faced with increasingly reduced orders, but the trees planted are failing in vast numbers. All in complete contrast to the increasingly spurious claims of many organisations’ PR teams ‘tweets’.
I paint a bleak picture, but I remain convinced that trees are a (if not THE) ‘basic’ answer to so many environmental issues, including of course climate change. If we cannot get the basics sorted out, what hope is there for anything else? Of course soil is the biggy – but who cares about this at all? Who realised that 2015 was the Year of Soil? Not many at all, regrettably!
But there has been some great success’s and just this year in the UK, the moratorium on Sheffield’s tree fiasco imposed by the High Court and the route of the Newtown bypass being bent to avoid the Brimmon Oak are both instances which prove that well organised local protest can work. In the background (and frankly quite often in the forefront also) there was Rob Mcbride (aka The Treehunter), who is rapidly and quite rightly becoming the face for trees in the UK and of all Europe. Simply there to help and pulling every string he can to do so.
Most, if not all of us in the tree ‘world’ know Rob. His networking skills are second to none and he can pull in any number of expert, specialist or someone with relevant anecdotal evidence, to help others.
When working for Save our Woods and it’s eventual successful conclusion there was the realisation that one person had become the very necessary hub, that without them it would not have succeeded – that was Hen Anderson.
The same is / has become true of Rob. And to many there is now the welcome relief that there is someone who can and will help. Who is the hub to achieving success – which no website, project or initiative could ever achieve – because it is they themselves that make it work in saving your trees.