As an antidote to long winter days stuck indoors, HIP looks at ways to enjoy our precious forests and woodlands.

National Tree Week
There’s still time to check out National Tree Week – the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree-planting season – 28th November to 6th December.

This annual event was established in March 1975 by the Tree Council to support national replanting of trees after the outbreak of Dutch elm disease. Each year since, upwards of a quarter of a million people have donned boots and gloves to plant trees. Although this year it’s not possible to get together due to lockdown, the Tree Council has brought a programme of arts and culture events online. For a calendar of what’s on locally and nationally and to discover future ways of becoming actively involved see:

Wood People Connective
Closer to home, the Wood People Connective aims to creatively celebrate the value of trees, timber and woodlands with the wider public. Its founder members are all based in East Sussex and work in woodland or with wood, sharing a belief in the interconnectedness of people and nature. 

Officially a branch of the Tree Charter UK (see below), they seek enthusiastic volunteers to become involved in projects and events, see:

Tree Charter UK
The Tree  Charter was initiated in 2015 by the Woodland Trust to create a clear, unifying statement about the right of people in the UK to enjoy the benefits of trees, woods and forests. 

The call for a Tree Charter was made in response to concerns about low planting rates; lack of legal protection; declining interest in forestry and arboriculture careers and threats from housing and infrastructure development, pests, diseases and climate change.

Over 70 organisations and 300 local community groups collected over 60,000 tree stories from people, demonstrating the important role that trees play in their lives. These stories were read and shared, and helped to define the 10 Principles of the Tree Charter, launched in November 2017, see:

The Woodland Trust
This national organisation is putting tree planting at the heart of its Big Climate Fightback campaign against global heating. For an A-Z of British trees, expert planting advice and woods to visit, see:

Respect the Forest
Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, including Bedgebury Pinetum Conifer Collection, just off the A21
near Flimwell – recognised as one of the most significant collections of conifer trees and plants anywhere in the world and understandably popular. 

However, Forestry England is asking visitors to reduce the number of journeys they make to this and others of their forests and stress that visits should be done locally. They’ve worked to increase safety and allow as many people as possible to visit by keeping car parks open during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A spokesperson for Forestry England said: “We appreciate that forests offer the chance for people to socially distance outdoors and benefit from being in the fresh air. We want everyone to think carefully before they visit… and come prepared to turn around if the car park is busy or full and visit another time. Please respect our staff, local communities and emergency services by parking legally and responsibly. We have good advice online so check our website: before travelling to see what’s open and when.”

Bedgebury forest covers around 800 hectares (2000 acres) and under
normal circumstances enables people of all ages to enjoy activities such as adventure play, walking, cycling, mountain-biking, running, horse riding or a Go Ape high-ropes adventure trail see:

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