Championing trees

At the heart of our 26 Trees project is a partnership with the Woodland Trust – to celebrate and raise awareness of the diverse trees we’re lucky enough to live alongside. I caught up with Adam Cormack, Head of Campaigning at the Woodland Trust, to get his view of the project.

First, could you tell us about the aims and work of the Woodland Trust?

woodland trust logo

The Woodland Trust has three key aims: 1) to protect ancient woodland which is rare and irreplaceable, 2) the restoration of damaged ancient woodland, 3) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife. We were founded in 1972 and we now have over 250,000 members and supporters and more than 1,000 woods that we care for.

What’s your role at the Woodland Trust, and in the 26 Trees project?

I lead the Campaigning Team at the Trust, which helps to demonstrate public support for trees and woods by developing campaigns and projects that support our policy and conservation objectives. The team undertakes a range of activities to do this – from organising petitions and online campaigns to planning casework and engagement with community groups. We support all UK countries and campaign in coalition with other charities and groups

This is a Tree Charter project. The Tree Charter is a modern-day version of the 800-year old Charter of the Forest, created in 1217 to protect people’s right to access forests for timber and food. In 2017 the Woodland Trust led a partnership project to create a new charter for Trees, Woods and Peoples to reflect the relationship we have now with trees. We were once dependent on trees for almost everything – food, shelter, building materials. And now in an age of climate change a new dependency exists.

Have you done any projects like this before, or is 26 Trees a first?

The Woodland Trust has worked with writers and artists to help communicate why trees and woods are important. But I think this is the first project like this – where we’ve worked with a group of writers who each focus on a different species. I can’t wait to see the results.

What are your hopes for the project? What are you most excited about?

I hope that people are inspired by the project and that it encourages people to look twice at the trees around them and reflect on their importance.

If you were a writer on this project, which tree would you want to write about?

I would definitely write about willow trees. Willows are my favourite trees. They’re often overlooked – with the notable exception of weeping willows which many people would recognise. Willows come in all shapes and sizes and they can grow everywhere – from lowland riverbanks to our wildest uplands. Willows are mercurial trees. They freely hybridise and can shape the environment for other plants and animals. Near me in the Trent valley in Nottinghamshire there are huge crack willows which sprawl through hedges creating all sorts of micro habitats for other wildlife.

How can we, as writers, help charities like the Woodland Trust?

Writers can be brilliant champions for trees and woods. Words can inspire people and move them to action – so by writing about trees and their importance writers can directly support the Woodland Trust’s work. This could be finding ways to incorporate trees into stories or focussing on trees and woods as subject matter themselves. The 26 Trees project is a great example of this.

And how can people support or get involved with the Woodland Trust more generally?

There are lots of ways people can get involved with the Trust. Three simple ways to get involved and help are to join as a member and support our work, to lend a hand as a volunteer and to support our campaigns to protect trees and woods. You can find out more at our website woodlandtrust.org.uk

– Adam Cormack, interviewed by Sophie Gordon


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