After months of gathering your support for our ‘gnarled and wrinkly’ campaign, yesterday (Wednesday 28 November) our Wales Director, Jerry Langford, our Communications Officer, Rory Francis, and I presented to the Welsh Assembly’s Petitions Committee a 5,320 signature-strong petition about increasing protection for Wales’ ancient and heritage trees.
Our petition was received by the Committee’s Chair, William Powell AM. Also present was committee member Russell George AM, and Ken Skates AM – not a member of the committee but someone who has been very supportive of this campaign since day one. The petition is to be discussed and considered by the Petitions Committee at their next meeting on Tuesday 4th December at 9:00am. A live broadcast of the meeting will be available on Senedd TV. It is likely that the Committee will then pass this on to the Minister for consideration.
We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the public support for this petition! 5,320 people have signed altogether – 2,071 face-to-face during some of this summer’s shows and events, and another 3,249 signed online or by sent in forms by post. Wales’ ancient trees are as important a part of our heritage as our castles and cathedrals and, between specific weaknesses in the Tree Preservation Order legislation (inherited from Westminster) and a lack of positive support from ancient tree owners, we are failing to protect them properly. It’s time we saw effective protection for these trees.
The Welsh Government has taken the far-sighted decision to create a single new environmental body, ‘Natural Resources Wales’. We really hope that this will be able to make a difference in terms of protecting ancient trees. The Welsh Government also plans a Planning Bill and a Heritage Bill over the coming few years; these also offer an opportunity to improve the system and ensure that our precious ancient trees are better looked after.
Finally, we would like to say a huge thank you to all 5,320 of you who have supported us since the launch of the campaign in May. Diolch yn fawr!
Angharad Evans, Campaigns Officer, Coed Cadw (Woodland Trust in Wales)