Haslemere is full of trees. What a blessing this is. Not only are they beautiful, they also provide us for free with a host of ‘eco services’, such as shade, air freshening, wind protection and flood prevention. Critically at a time of climate and biodiversity crisis, they absorb carbon and support diverse wildlife.
The trees also contribute to the town’s aesthetics and character, and many have botanical, historical and cultural significance – for example, the tulip tree on the war memorial green that was a gift from our French twin town.
Recognising their value as well as, in some cases, their vulnerability, we are setting up a network of tree wardens. It’s an initiative of Transition Haslemere and the Haslemere Biodiversity Project. Our first task is to identify and create an inventory of the notable trees in the Haslemere area. As we do so, we plan to monitor them, see they are protected where appropriate, draw attention to their value and celebrate them.
Ideally, we would like to have at least two wardens for each of Haslemere’s four wards. So far, we have five volunteers. We are registering with the Surrey Tree Warden Network, which coordinates groups across the county. It also offers training in areas such as tree biology, threats and law. Our volunteers participated in their first session earlier this week.
Tree wardens have no official authority although we plan to work with those that do, including the town, borough and county councils and have initiated contacts already.
You don’t need any particular qualifications or to be an expert on trees to be a warden; just a love of trees. There are no specific commitments that volunteers need to make. Our group has agreed that we will each do what we can to help meet our overall aims.
If you are interested in becoming a tree warden, email [email protected], or would just like to know more about what it entails go to surreytreewardens.org.uk
We will be holding a meeting of volunteers and others interested in supporting us in mid-May.
By Clive Davidson
Chair, Transition Haslemere