Last year saw the launch of The Charter for Trees, Woods and People. This sets out the principles for a society in which people and trees can stand stronger together. The Tree Charter is rooted in more than 60,000 ‘tree stories’ gathered from people of all backgrounds across the UK.
In 2017 Into the Wild Wood formed a local branch in Nottingham to promote the Charter, and with a small grant from the Woodland Trust was able to raise awareness of the Charter at local events and Community groups, gathering signatures of support.
One of the 10 principles on which the Charter is built is to "Celebrate the power of trees to inspire":
"Stories have always grown on trees. Artists are drawn to their intricacies. Woods are rooted in memories, but it’s the leaf mould of tales told that nourishes future growth. The poetry of trees is always living, for every older work sends out new shoots. We grow attached to trees in books and learn to look for them in life. We feel connected to trees we know and love to see them painted well."
As part of my local Charter branch work I developed an educational project called "Talking Trees", which is a story based session aimed at Key Stage 2 children. It is comprised of 2 folk takes about trees from Estonia and India, which contain within them powerful teachings about the value of trees.
The Indian story is based on the true story of how women in India protected a woodland from being destroyed by hugging trees, which inspired the modern day Chipko movement to protect forests in India. It is an inspirational tale which shows the strength in coming together as a community to protect what is precious.
The power of story over other educational medium, is that it harnesses the child's imagination, so that they can really immerse themselves in a topic with their whole being - engaging their heart and their minds. Following the stories, I explored with the children what trees mean to them, and whether they have a special tree in their lives. I was moved by what the children shared: trees in far away countries that remind them of their home land; trees in their memories connecting them to beloved grandparents; special moments of safety and peace.
National Tree Charter day is Saturday 24th November and marks the start of National Tree Week which runs until 2nd December. During the week I will be out and about at local schools with "Talking Trees", celebrating trees through storytelling.
Looking to the future I am looking to take "Talking Trees" further out into my local community as well as developing other story based educational projects. Please get in touch if you are interested in knowing more, or would like the stories to come to your school, community group or festival.
For more information about the Tree Charter visit: https://treecharter.uk