The Woodland Trust has launched a public petition to prompt the Welsh Assembly to strengthen legislation for the protection of ancient trees. This is timed to coincide with the Assembly gearing up to consider draft bills on heritage, natural ecosystems and the creation of a single environment body to manage the Welsh environment.
The charity’s Rory Francis explains: ‘Although current Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) serve a useful purpose, what’s missing is support for the positive management of ancient trees. If you own a listed property, help is on offer to help you maintain it. No similar system for the benign management of old trees exists. We feel a more transparent system of advice on grant aid should be made available.’
The trust wants TPO legislation to be made ‘fit for purpose’, including removing the blanket exemption from protection of trees which are ‘dead or dying’. It wants references to dangerous trees to be reworded to distinguish between those that constitute a ‘real and present danger’ and others that don’t and would, therefore, be eligible for TPO status.
Wales is especially rich in venerable churchyard yews, some of which have been subjected to drastic surgery in the mistaken belief that they present a threat to public safety. Visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/campaigning/our-campaigns.