Shade of the Canopy

Trees in Planning Applications

BTP are thrilled to have be asked to speak about trees in planning applications to the Calthorpe Residents Society. On the 29th November, the meeting was hosted in a very plush wine bar in Edgbaston Village.

Mac giving the presentation

There are two BTP committee members also on the Calthorpe board, and they knew that BTP have a number of speakers available for a wide range of tree-related topics. In this case, Mac was available to talk to the Society about trees and the law in an urban setting. The presentation was well received with a very interactive audience, who engaged about boundary trees and common law rights.

We would like to thank CRS for inviting us! If anyone is interested in learning more, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Highters Heath Tree Planting

Today we celebrated Tree Week in Highters Heath, with Highters Heath Community School and the Friends of Daisy Farm Park. We worked with the new friends group and school earlier this year to plant trees, and now we are back for more!

Despite the soggy weather, the wonderful group of prefects from the local school came with smiles on their faces, to plant trees with the TreePeople on Maypole Grove this morning. Charley, the Communications Officer, met the teachers and pupils at the school, enjoying a nice community walk to the planting location. There they met Ian McDermott and Julianne Statham, BTP Trustees, and the Woodland Team’s Leon and Nick, ready for planting the new gingko trees.

Mac told the children about the special tree, thought to be extinct but is now planted globally, the Gingko Biloba or Maindenhair Tree. Splitting into two groups of girls versus boys – because at this age we still have cooties – the teams set about who could plant the tree quicker, but in the end, they were evenly matched! The adults helped the two teams and taught the kids how to plant the trees from hole to stake ties; they were true naturals and grubby from all the hard work when we were finished.

The whole team for the tree planting
The full team with grubby hands! All photos taken with permissions.
Birmingham TreePeople would like to thank Highters Heath Community School for participating in this tree planting with us, as well as Steve Anderson from Friends of Daisy Farm Park, and of course Mac, Julianne, and the Woodland team for all the help and fun we had planting trees!

Hodge Hill Tree Planting

On the 2nd December 2023, the Friends of Hodge Hill Common and Birmingham TreePeople teamed up to plant a new tree on Coleshill Road. We planted a beautiful semi-mature tree for Tree Week, even though the winter frost had just set in!

Simon and Tonia with the Treecycle for the Hodge Hill planting

Simon Needle transported the new sweet gum to the planting location using the Treeycycle. This is a low emission electric bike that kept the carbon footprint of the tree even lower! BTP and FOHHC spent a sweet and frosty afternoon working together to put a new tree in the ground, that will grow with vivid colours.

The event garnered many member of the friends group, members of BTP, and the general public. We pulled together to have a go at digging the planting hole, but the children really got stuck in! Lisa Hodge welcomed the tree with a mindful welcoming ceremony with the group, becoming one with the tree. After which the children showed us old’ens how it’s done by back-filling the hole!

Katy Hawkins gave an informative and creative talk about the benefits and characteristics of the liquidambar, passing a leaf around for everyone to smell the sweet scent of the sweet gum. She ended by giving everyone a scroll to remember to come back and water the tree. Watering our trees, taking care of them, is just as important as planting them. We hope that Hodge Hill enjoys and cares for the new piece of nature on their doorstep.

Thank you to Urfaan and Genny, who organised the refreshments, Katy and Lisa for hosting the ritual, and Simon and Tonia for transporting the tree and equipment. A HUGE thanks to everyone who attended the event; we hope you loved it as much as we did. What a lovely day to remember!

All photos taken with permissions.

Planting with T4C

Two Trees for Cities employees, planting trees for Tree Week.

Trees for Cities, the facilitator for this year’s National Tree Week tree planting, joined the BTP and BCC teams on 28th November, to green up Newtown in Birmingham.

Mac, Steve, and Julianne, three of BTP’s Trustees, assisted the BCC Woodland and City Parks teams, helping the T4C corporate volunteers put the new trees in the ground. The Woodland team marked out the eight sites and provided tools. Four T4C employees, from all over the country, turned up and dug their hearts out. One of the trees, a London Plane or Platanus Orientalis ‘Minaret’, was damaged and replaced free of charge!

Planting brings many benefits…

Newtown is one of our target, low canopy, priority wards. Thanks to the planting of these trees, the area will receive new benefits from them. Trees filter air pollution, provide shade and biodiversity, as well as protection from storm water. Planting these trees will contribute long-term to the Urban Forest Master Plan, and the Urban Forest Accelerator projects.

Mac chatting away with the Trees for Cities volunteers, supervising the hole digging. This is to ensure the correct depth in relation to the tree. If we plant these trees well, they will flourish in the years to come.

Here we see the city parks team digging with T4C, preparing the holes for the semi-mature trees going in. The trees are being protected by stakes and metal mesh cages, to prevent extensive vandalism.

It was a truly lovely morning planting trees in Newtown with several partners involved. We would like to thank the Woodland and City Parks teams, the Trees for Cities volunteers, and also Julianne who provided these images and videos. We look forward to more tree planting throughout Tree Week 2023!

Trees for Tree Week

Barcham driver Chris delivers our trees for Tree Week 2023

Our trees for Tree Week 2023 arrived yesterday!

Ian McDermott and Julianne Statham of BTP met Barcham, Kier and City Parks to unload our selection of trees, protective stakes, and cages for the tree planting season and Tree Week, due to take place next Monday 27th for two weeks. We will be working with BCC and many community groups to get the trees in the ground. Many thanks to all who helped unload these trees, preparing us for the upcoming planting celebrations.

The Urban Forest Accelerator brings a quirky, sustainable touch

Birmingham ward, Hodge Hill, will have a tree planted transported via Treecycle

What is the Urban Forest Accelerator?

The Urban Forest Accelerator is a partnership project focusing on the urban forest. National Trust, Woodland Trust, and Community Forest Trust currently support a range of Councils and diverse communities with significant urban green estates, with high potential to increase trees and woods that enhance existing heritage and create new urban landscape with cultural value. 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.

Community Focus

Due to the Urban Forest Accelerator’s focus on community and residential involvement, Heritage Fund provided the finances for the project, and for BTP to garner to employees to enact Communications and Engagement, something rare for a charity to obtain. 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 this year’s iTree Eco survey in record time, the non-profit organisation that prioritises the urban forest has grown from strength to strength, establishing one the largest volunteer networks in the UK.

Since the posts have been filled for the Urban Forest Accelerator, work began diligently and delicately establishing bonds in priority wards with low canopy cover, working with friends and residential groups, officers, and green champions to bring the community together and raise the awareness and benefits of trees before the planting season. Leading us to diversely well-attended local tree walk events in partnership with groups such as Nechells POD, and Friends of Hodge Hill Common, the latter whom have been working with BTP to establish a ceremonial planting day for their new sweet gum (liquidambar) tree in Hodge Hill on the 2nd December.

Planting in Hodge Hill for the Urban Forest Accelerator

Hodge Hill planting flyer for the urban forest accelerator and tree week, 02/12/23

Coinciding perfectly with Tree Week, the tree planting celebrations won’t begin without the BTP Chair, Tonia Clark, riding the collectively nicknamed ‘Treecycle’ – a bicycle/basket transportation – from the tree’s storage location to the planting location, further lowering the tree’s carbon emissions through this method of transference. The myriad of benefits that just one tree can make will not only be celebrated with a tree-lowering ceremony, carrying over the theme of mindfulness and connection with nature from the Creative Tree Walk on 18th November, providing the residents with a form of social prescribing to improve mental and physical health, but also through the theme of sustainability with the use of the Treecycle, which all participants in the event are excited for its quirky and wholesome debut.

There will be many community-involved tree planting activities running from Tree Week through to January, and the Hodge Hill planting will take place at 14:30 until 15:30, where there will be the tree planting ceremony followed by refreshments for the residents and groups in attendance. Through these kinds of deeper bonds in the city ward’s, the trees that are planted will receive the love and care they have so-longed deserved, and through the Urban Forest Accelerator and UFMP programmes, Birmingham will continue to grow greener and sturdier, one ward at a time.

Orchard Pruning at Manor Park Farm

Manor Park Farm’s orchard pruning volunteering session had a wonderful turnout. We met on a pleasant morning at the farm, at the invitation of their friends group. We had been asked to lend a hand, pruning some trees in the orchard, and removing dead ones.

Nina Griffiths, BTP Trustee in charge of Street Trees, and member of the Friends of Manor Farm Park, leads the orchard pruning volunteers in the session.
Nina Griffiths, BTP Trustee in charge of Street Trees, and member of the Friends of Manor Farm Park, leads the pruning volunteers in the session.

The day was led by BTP stalwart and Trustee Nina Griffiths, who talked the group through the day’s activities, and supplied everyone with a work plan for the day, very impressive. A dozen TreePeople, including two new attendees, soon got stuck into the work and within a couple of hours we had finished! This provided the opportunity to walk back through the park, to enjoy the splendid tree collection, followed by coffee and cake at the end – a great end to a great day out.

Ian McDermott, Trustee, Trainer, and Arboriculturalist
How not to mulch!

A lesson here during pruning training:
how not to mulch!

Would you like to join Manor Park Farm Friends for one of their regular volunteering sessions caring for the park? The remaining 2023 sessions are on 3rd and 16th December. Contact them for more details. They meet in the carpark at 10.30, but under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Our next free training session will be on Saturday 16th December, 10am until 12pm. We will be learning more about conifer identification at Highbury Park, with the Highbury Park Friends group.

We’ll meet at the Shutcock Lane car park. The What Three Words for the car park are ///into.under.having.

These events are open to all, so please let others know if you think they will be interested, and bring your friends and family. This event will be outdoors and on uneven terrain, so please dress appropriately.

It’s Almost Tree Week

Now that planting season is upon us and Tree Week approaches, we are focusing our attention on five low-canopy cover wards in Birmingham. This will take place throughout the last week of November and the first week of December. These wards are Nechells, Bromford and Hodge Hill (under the Heritage Fund grant for the UFA project), and Newtown and Highters Heath (under the Trees for Cities grant).

If you missed the biweekly flyer, click here to find out what Katy has been doing in Nechells recently!

We want to raise awareness of the myriad benefits of existing and future trees, parks, and green spaces. That’s why we are currently seeking local figures, Green Champions, and environmental or well-being groups to plant with us. If you are interested in the upcoming planting and Tree Week celebrations, please contact us and get involved.

Our charity wants to cultivate community relationships, with our vast and growing network of urban forest volunteers. This is to carry forward residential involvement in specific ward-level planting and maintenance, and draw attention to the health and welfare aspect – through the exploration of social prescribing – that nature provides us.

People's feet during the tree walk

The new trees will contribute towards Birmingham’s long-term goals for increasing canopy cover under the Urban Forest Master Plan, and the Urban Forest Accelerator. Our great Tree City keeps growing and giving every day, through a nurturing, mutual relationship with nature. This is what makes Birmingham beautiful.

Hodge Hill Common Tree Walk

The Tree Walk on the 18th saw us teaming up with Friends of Hodge Hill Common. Katy, Lisa and Genny lead an enthusiastic and diverse group of local residents around the Common. We identified trees, their myths, and remained mindful around nature.

Mindfulness around Hodge Hill Common amongst the trees was a great success, run through Friends of Hodge Hill Common and Birmingham TreePeople. We explored various trees and engaged with texture, sound, colour, and appearance. It was great to find out more about them, and practice mindfulness amongst the sounds of the trees.

Lisa Hodge, FOHHC

The session began with grounding mindfulness amongst the sycamores. We discovered mushroom rings of clouded funnel in the autumn foliage. The group discussed the silver birch’s ‘hisstling’ (thank you Lisa) sounds, and the defensive adaptation of holly’s spiky leaves. We took photos and talked about the vibrancy of colour in the autumn leaves. One walker recalled the planting, fifty years ago, of the golden teardrop hornbeams. We wrote a group poem about the unusual shapes of nature we took notice of. Attendees formed a circle and chanted for the revival of the ash trees, due to dieback and the borer, like rainmaker ceremonies of old. Walkers felt the textured leaf of an elm, and truly connected creatively and imaginatively with the nature on our urban doorsteps.

We were also joined by Sima, from Birmingham Open Spaces Forum. She filmed the experience of the Tree Walk, spoke to some of the tree walkers and FOHHC about the event, and what volunteering means to us all. Many thanks for documenting the wonderful day.

The group of adults and children went back to Genny’s house, member of FOHHC, who kindly hosted with leafy teas, coffee, cake, and samosas. This was whilst Katy discussed the local planting initiative with the residents, where a unanimous decision of species was made.

Final Words

We wanted to thank all those who attended the Tree Walk and becoming a part of nature. This event was under the Urban Forest Accelerator project that will increase the cities canopy cover. A huge thanks to Katy from BTP and Lisa, Genny, and other members of the FOHHC for a warm, welcoming, riveting day. We look forward to the next one, and planting trees in Hodge Hill!

The walkers having a nice tea and coffee, cake and samosas, after the hodge hill tree walk

Tree Talk: CRS

Ian ‘Mac’ McDermott will give a tree talk to Calthorpe Residents Society (CRS), in an upcoming closed event on 29th November, focusing on residential properties.

“Mac The Tree” is a well known ‘Brummie’ tree expert with an extensive, highly trained background in arboriculture. With an overall theme of tree management, Mac will address the practical issues of tree selection. This will include domestic pruning, property obligations, legal aspects, and watching local building developments.

Two men talking, trees behind them, tree talk, holding mugs

The Calthorpe Estate is complex with many TPO trees. It is a major conservation area, boasting significant green infrastructure, and the Edgbaston brand.

The Calthorpe Residents Society (‘The Society’), formed in 1971, serves for public benefit of those living on the Calthorpe Estate. The Society’s objectives are as follows:

Securing the preservation of features of beauty, history and character in the area.

Encouraging public interest, and promoting high standards of planning and architecture.

Promoting social interaction between residents and organisations, enhancing the quality of community life.

BTP has similar objectives, as we would like to improve the perception of and protect existing trees, raising awareness of green spaces. This also includes planting further trees to increase canopy cover, as a primary UFMP objective. Working with similar organisations like our own can only build stronger foundations for the residents of the city.

We look forward to establishing a new relationship, and the tree talk will provide The Society with better knowledge and understanding on how to achieve their objectives concerning tree management.

Calthorpe Residents Society logo - tree talk with BTP and CRS

UFMP Sets High Standard for European Cities

The Urban & Community Forestry Society (UCFS) published an article regarding the Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP), and we are incredibly proud to be mentioned. It highlights the work BTP and BCC have been doing for the Urban Forest Master Plan. Many thanks to Michelle Sutton for writing this City Trees article, and for Ian McDermott’s mention.

urban forest master plan (ufmp) sets a high standard for european cities

Click here to find out more about the Urban Forest Master Plan (UFMP).

As many of our TreePeople will know, our goal is to increase canopy cover in the many wards of Birmingham. This crucial element is incorporated into the Master Plan because of the many benefits trees bring to our urban environment.

urban forest master plan sets a high standard for european cities - next page

An Urban Forest Master Plan is a strategic document that states the intentions for the green space and natural capital of the city. A long-term approach with an action-based strategy. It focuses on how the city will develop and manage its urban forest in the years to come. The plan defines the aspirations of the council, its urban forest managers, and key stakeholders.

The plan is based around key performance indicators. Each with specific actions, targets, and milestones to measure progress. It brings existing policies and frameworks together, offering a comprehensive guide to urban forest practices. It can help build a greener, healthier urban forest.

BTP and our partners are targeting priority wards in Birmingham with low tree equity, to increase canopy cover for the many benefits it can bring those areas.