The Trustees

Birmingham TreePeople’s Trustees are hardworking industry professionals, who volunteer for the charity and provide their time and services. This ranges from our training, free and paid L2, online and in-person workshops or talks, tree planting and maintenance, street tree surveying and other tree surveys, plotting tree trails, the Treemembrance programme… the list is endless. Find out here just who is responsible for delivering our projects, the Trustees of BTP, and their many skills and qualifications they bring to the table.

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Tonia Clark

Principal Finance and Bids Officer, Birmingham City Council, Tonia Clark is the current TreePeople Chair, and has been involved from the very early days. Tonia was one of the first volunteers to complete the L2 Arboriculture course. She now delivers training and talks about trees at partnership events regularly.

Tonia is a bit of a tree hugger and loves learning about trees. She wishes that more people in Birmingham lived in tree lined streets and near tree-filled open spaces, and she’s doing what she can to make this a reality.

Ian McDermott

Ian (Mac) McDermott began work in Horticulture and Arboriculture in 1976. His first job was with a local company before going back to college. He has worked in all sectors of the Arboricultural and Urban Forestry industry, serving at a high level for both the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and the Municipal Tree Officers Association (MTOA). He holds the Professional Diploma in Arboriculture and is a Chartered Horticulturist.

Ian took early retirement from Local Authority in 2014, and now works as an Arboricultural trainer and lecturer, having worked for a number of land-based colleges teaching Level 6 Arboriculture. Most of his time is now spent training volunteers to work with municipalities in managing the Urban Forest, and is heavily involved in Tree Warden schemes across the midlands region. He delivers the BTP training package, the ABC Level 2 in Arboriculture, amongst others.

Current projects include managing one of the largest iTree projects in the UK, continuing consultancy work in the planning sector, and recent involvement with the UNECE panel of experts. A strong advocate of community engagement in the management of Municipal trees, Mac serves on several charity boards and Friends groups. Email him here about training: [email protected]

Nina Griffths

Nina Griffith’s deeper interest in trees emerged from attending volunteer conservation sessions with the Friends of Manor Farm Park, Northfield. She joined Birmingham TreePeople as an urban forest volunteer in 2018, and has thoroughly enjoyed the journey so far. With the training received over the last few years, she has used the newfound knowledge in her community.

She took over the maintenance of the neglected Community Orchard at Manor Farm Park. Nina regularly imparts knowledge to other volunteers, regarding the maintenance and care of the orchard. She shares the responsibility of maintaining and caring for the trees around the her allotment plot at Harborne Lane.

Nina also provides advice and training to various Friends groups, such as Bournville Park and Manor Farm Park, in the care of existing and newly planted trees. She has led many tree walks at the local park. She is currently studying the Level 2 Arboriculture course through BTP, learning even more about trees!

Nina was asked to join Birmingham TreePeople as a Trustee in February 2021. She is currently the Coordinator for the street tree citizen science survey, on behalf of Birmingham City Council and Kier. Her role involves training and assisting volunteers in the art of tree surveying.

James Tucker

Professor of Supramolecular Chemistry at University of Birmingham, James (Jim) Tucker is a recent addition to the board of the TreePeople. He has a long history of community engagement across the city, and is a steadfast champion of trees and nature.

A business plan seminar with Vic from National Trust, where the Trustees and Employees envisioned our next 5, 30, and 100 years.

Simon Needle

Simon Needle has worked for Birmingham City Council since 2014, having gained extensive training and knowledge in the field of Arboriculture in the years previous, and following.

He has held the position of Principle Ecologist, providing ecological and biodiversity advice and guidance across all departments, but primarily for planning. He also contributed towards policy and strategy documents, HS2 consultation input, SuDS design document, and regeneration master-plans.

Moving onto become the council’s Principle Arboriculturalist, he dealt with TPO’s, tree works in Conservation Areas, and Planning Applications. He contributed towards strategy and policy documents, providing arboricultural advice across the directorates.

He is currently the Strategic Lead for Urban Forestry and Nature, leading on implementation of Birmingham’s Urban Forest Master-plan, development and implementation of Biodiversity Net Gain policy, and Climate Adaptation through Nature Based Solutions.

Deanne Brettle

Deanne (Dee) Brettle worked as a Primary School Forest School Leader for 10 years. She spent regular time in a small patch of woodland, experiencing all the seasons and actively managing the land. Playing alongside the children, she remembers fondly. She currently works for the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Forest Research as a Project Officer.

Dee has been a Trustee since 2022. She became a volunteer when they called to action for a citizen science project, surveying newly planted street trees. She has recently enjoyed working on a project to digitise the tree trails in parks using TreePlotter. Dee hopes it will get more people to ‘see’ trees, and experience the same awe and wonder she does.

Steve Watson

Steve Watson has a career background in engineering, industrial ceramics and remuneration consulting. As the Treasurer, he monitors the movement of money, amongst several other behind the scenes activities. He supports the urban forest volunteers during workshops and events.

Steve would like BTP to have a representative nominated for each Ward to support residents, Tree Officers, Councillors, and MP’s. His future aspirations for the organisation are the continuation of significant contributions BTP have begun to make, improving the management of Birmingham’s urban forest.

Julianne Statham

Juliane Statham is a fairly recent member of the board, and qualified through our L2 Arboriculture training programme recently.

She has involved herself in all aspects of the TreePeople and is a great asset, taking over the responsibility of the Treemembrance Programme. This is the memorial tree planting programme for the city, providing commemorative trees for groups and individuals.

Julianne regularly supports other Trustees and the BTP employees at events, providing fantastic photos and captions, fully emersing herself in every experience at a tree-related event. Her passion and dedication really shines through with every knew thing she learns.

Lawrence Weston

Lawrence is an early career Tree Person, and new entrant into the sector. In his day job, Lawrence is a grower of organic fruit and veg, with an interest in top fruit, particularly apples! He moonlights as a hedgelayer, and is pursuing a range of practical arboricultural training.

A graduate from the University of Birmingham, Lawrence completed the BTP Level 2 Arboriculture training programme, alongside a number of the other Trustees. He originally became involved with the TreePeople in 2020, as a volunteer street tree surveyor in Selly Oak, whilst in his final year of university. He encourages others to sign up to be an Urban Forest Volunteer and immerse themselves in the world of trees!

The Trustees have some helping hands…

Katy Hawkins, Engagement Officer, and Charlotte McDermott, Communications Officer, have joined Birmingham TreePeople as paid employees for the very first time.

This has been made possible due to our participation in the Urban Forest Accelerator (UFA) programme: in partnership with National Trust, Woodland Trust, and Community Forest Trust, the project is designed to respond to Council and communal needs, by improving urban green space through the encouragement of tree planting, communications, and community engagement.

Birmingham TreePeople, alongside Birmingham City Council, have been the propagators of this programme within the City of Birmingham, using the city as a preliminary case study that coincides with the implementation of the Urban Forest Master Plan, another project focusing on the increase of ward-level canopy cover to improve the health and well-being of residents.

Due to the UFA’s focus on community and residential involvement, Heritage Fund provided the finances for the project, and for BTP to garner two employees to enact Communications and Engagement, something rare for a charity to obtain. This project runs from June 2023 to October 2024.

BTP, with its humble origins in the Tree Warden Scheme by BCC in 2016, to achieving the city’s status as Tree City in 2019, completing 2023’s iTree Eco survey in record time, our non-profit organisation that prioritises the urban forest has grown from strength to strength, establishing one of the largest volunteer networks in the UK.

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