Shade of the Canopy

Apple Pruning

Apple pruning with Rob from Fruit & Nut Village with Friends of Edgbaston Resevoir, Warm Earth, BOSF and more.
Apple pruning with Rob from Fruit & Nut Village with Friends of Edgbaston Resevoir, Warm Earth, BOSF and more.

12 hosts and visitors pruned 16 apple trees, in the Summerfield Orchard, at Edgbaston Reservoir. The trees, planted in 2009, were eager for a haircut, which had not happened since COVID. Rob Tilling from Fruit & Nut Village provided the tuition and tools, supported by The Friends of Edgbaston Reservoir, Warm Earth, and BTP.

Steve Watson

Street Tree Survey: Hodge Hill

Nina measuring a street tree.

Nina Griffiths, BTP Trustee for the Street Tree Survey, held another survey session on Sunday 3rd March, split into two am and pm sessions. Deanne Brettle, BTP Trustee for Tree Trails, also assisted Nina and the urban forest volunteers during the training.

Martyn and his wife Cath signed up as urban forest volunteers last year, after Nina gave a demonstration of the street tree surveying during our Summer Social 2023. Thanks to our dedicated volunteers, and the new trainees Alex and Charley, the morning session went smoothly under the morning, winter sun.

In the afternoon, long time volunteers Gig and Genny (the latter a member of our workshop partners FOHHC), as well as new surveyors Jitesh and Ruth, joined Nina and Dee to survey more trees around Hodge Hill.

A big thanks to all the volunteers who attended and surveyed the street trees with the Trustees for this project, as our street trees are an essential part of our urban environment and are often overlooked.

That’s why our dedicated volunteers not only surveyed a total of 11 trees, but 3 extra trees that weren’t on the survey list were rescued from overly tight stake ties and other damage. Many trees were pruned correctly with on-the-job training, to rescue possible pedestrians and cars from damaged branches falling, as well as freeing the bases of several trees from suckers to relieve stress.

BTP want the neighbourhoods of their street trees to be able to take ownership of their maintenance and care, ensuring that they thrive. The aim of the survey is to inform tree planting through data driven citizen science, and the data collected is recorded using TreePlotter.

Placement Students

Birmingham TreePeople, for the first time and hopefully not the last, are hosting placement students, and from two different levels of education. Emily and Naya will be joining us for a while to help us survey street trees and crunch TreePlotter data!

Emily Kendall

University of Birmingham Geography student, Emily Kendall, joins us for her third-year BA student placement this month. She will be working with us until next May, and will spend time working on the urban Street Tree Survey With Nina Griffiths.

Emily says, “I chose this placement because I love being outside and getting involved in data collection. I will be participating in the street tree project, examining how tree outcomes, such as survival, growth, and condition, are related to other variables, including environmental and social factors, as well as management efforts. I look forward to analysing some of the TreePlotter data, learning more about trees, and understanding the work involved within BTP.”

Naya Desai

We also have a PhD student from the same university, Naya Desai, who studies under Emma Ferranti in the Civil Engineering department.

She said, “I’m Naya, Emma’s PhD student! I’m currently working with the BTP data whereby I utilise data science approaches to understand patterns in the data. This includes, exploring the data through visualisations, unsupervised machine learning techniques such as k-means and I hope to build some prediction models using linear regression. My aim is to find interesting patterns in the data that can give us a better understanding of what trees are doing well and further see if we can make any useful predictions.”

Final Words

This has propelled us forward with our research agenda concerning the street tree surveys, and makes us unique amongst tree warden and urban forest volunteer groups. We look forward to having these students learn and grow with BTP, and to the next one we host! If you are a student, or you know students that would like a placement, or you simply want to get involved in the street tree surveying (or volunteer in another area like the tree trails), just let us know!

A forest with a tick-shaped lake in the middle.

Street Tree Survey 2024

Over the weekend, Sunday 25th February, Nina Griffiths – BTP Trustee in charge of the Street Tree Survey – led the first street tree surveying training session, as well as some emergency tree care for some damaged trees.

The practical workshop in Bordesley Green followed an online introductory session to the theory of street trees and the surveying of them, before the superb group of old and new volunteers headed out to collect this year’s data.

New volunteers and enthusiasts included Meena, Jitesh Patel, Qurat al Ain, Abdul Mateen, and Ruth Tetlow (who recently applied and has now planted the first memorial tree with us, through our Treemembrance programme that Julianne Statham leads, in commemoration of Debt Justice).

As previously mentioned, two of the trees found were sick or damaged, so emergency tree care was administered by the heartwarming team. Even though it rather cold with February’s hint of frostiness, the fun was ever-present, and the dedicated team of urban forest volunteers managed to survey ten trees, and with the upcoming Sunday 3rd March session, there’ll be more to come!

Arconic Tree Planting

A fabulous morning has been had in Bromford, planting 8 trees with 7 representatives from Arconic!

The BCC Parks Team came out earlier to dig the holes, and the Arconic team were keen to get stuck in! The A-team (from the Kitts Green site) consisted of: Danny Stokes, Penny Chen, Victoria Redman, Angela Scott (Foundation Lead), Jamie Stone, Tony Hawthorn, and Steve Williams. You can see the fun they had in the videos!

Arconic funded via One Tree Planted, for us to provide the trees we’ve been planting this planting season. Thank you for everything you’ve done!

It was an energetic and collaborative morning. Two of the team members told Julianne Statham they’ll be visiting to check up on the trees they’ve planted.The 8 trees were 4 sophora saponica, 2 platanus orientalis var minaret, 1 liquidambar styraciflua var worplesdon, and 1 gleditsia triacanthos… Do you know what the common names for these trees are?

Finally, BTP were well represented with Julianne, Simon Needle, and Steve Watson (who recently tended and pruned the trees planted in 2008 in Edgbaston Guinea Gardens) in attendance.

Thank you to everyone who has been involved in this project with us and made all the green magic happen around Birmingham!

Orchard Pruning Training with Open Door

Cath from Open Door talking about history of green space in Bromford.

We hosted a wonderful and well-attended orchard pruning training session this morning, alongside Open Door, where we met an Ambridge House in Bromford to talk about the history of the trees in the area, as well as the new community orchard, and the pruning of the growing fruit trees.

Maps of Bromford, dating back to the 1900’s, bought by Cath Fletcher.

Cath Fletcher began the seminar by speaking to the group, of locals and TreePeople alike, about the backdrop the estate and its green space, one half still retaining relatively old trees like Bluebell Woods (where Genny Tunbridge took some members of the group after the session for a tree walk), but many were lost due to redevelopment over the years, and those that survive are over the border into Castle Bromwich. Some trees that were removed for works were replaced, but as the years unravel, the maps dating back to early 1900’s revealed the true losses of the trees.

Cath asked for introductions, and this proved that we had volunteers from all over Birmingham arrive today to talk about trees and orchards, showing the wider spread interest in nature.

Orchard Pruning Presentation

Ian McDermott followed on from Cath, by giving an Urban TreePeople© presentation about Trees in Our Towns and Cities, focusing on orchard trees in community orchards.

Planning is crucial for your orchard, as the harvesting must be decided – who, what, where, when, how, why? Who will pick them and who will eat them, what fruit species should be planted, where should the orchard be placed in the community, when does it begin and when does pruning take place, how will it be carried out, and WHY are you doing it? Why is crucial: the right tree, the right place, the right reason. Is it for fruit, juicing, greening, or the carbon ‘fruitprint’©? That’s a lot of questions to answer.

Mac used examples from his time with Walsall Council, planting a fenced and fruit-hedged orchard in the Arboretum, and an example of an edible garden seen in Phoenix, Arizona, focusing on the orchard’s design needing the ‘greatest amount of everything’. That means sunlight (like the street tree 5-faces rule), space, diversity, etc. An avenue of chestnuts was also installed in the former to encourage foraging. Horticulture considerations should always include encouraging pollinating insects, as many trees needs fertilising for the fruit to form.

Orchard Pruning: Practical Workshop

Lawrence orchard pruning.

After the presentation, Mac led the practical pruning workshop on the orchard trees outside the community centre, where everyone split into groups to have a go at pruning. Our newest BTP Trustee, Lawrence Weston, also assisted the group by giving a Winter pruning demonstration, which was a terrific way to introduce himself and the skills he brings to the TreePeople.

The sense of community that orchards can bring, no matter what purpose, is ever-present and important to remember. We wanted to thank Cath and Open Door for hosting this session with us today, and all those who attended (Including FOHHC, FOPP, FOCHP); we look forward to future collaborations!

Tree Equity Seminar with Woodland Trust

After working with The Woodland Trust previously on their Tree Equity Score, BTP were invited to attend and present at their internal Tree Equity seminar 8th February, to display the fantastic work that was done last year for National Tree Week 2023. We gathered at Nechells POD, one of our partners for last year’s planting, in one of the very wards we went onto talk about.

Through our Urban Forest Masterplan, and the Urban Forest Accelerator programme, increasing canopy cover in the priority wards has been equity focused. Tree Equity means that everyone has equal access to trees, so that’s why we planted in our chosen areas during this planting season, to raise the tree equity in those areas.

Charley giving her Tree Week presentation.

Charlotte McDermott, BTP Communications Officer, and Ian McDermott, BTP Trainer and Arboriculturalist, attended the morning seminar, where Charley kicked off the day with an interactive and humorous presentation about the successes and struggles of Tree Week. She also planned an extensive walk around Nechells, to show The Woodland Trust team some of the nearby tree planting locations and talk about them, that was only mildly inconvenienced by the wonderful British weather and Google Maps…

Other presenters included Russell Horsey, Director and Urban Forestry Consultant for Goetre Villa Ltd, who talked about his inspiring and fruitful community engagement work with BristolTrees, and Beth Collier, Founder of Wild in the City, a non-profit that supports people of colour’s well-being through connecting with nature. Both delivered absorbing talks about their valuable, in-depth, public work.

We wanted to warmly thank Woodland Trust for being so welcoming, and inviting us to the interesting seminar, highlighting the importance, value, and practicalities of tree equity. Also Nechells POD for hosting us, and continuing our good relationship from the tree planting last year.

A panorama of the tree equity seminar.

Eden Project Communities

Eden Project Communities 'using trees to bring people together' seminar advert, where BTP's Tonia spoke online.

Tonia Clark, Trustee and BTP Chair, was delighted to be invited again on 31st January, to talk about organising tree activities, as part of Eden Project Communities’ Winter Warmer programme.

She talked about how to organise a winter tree walk, that you don’t need to have a park nearby, and you can observe street trees, trees in front gardens, and even hedges. The group shared ideas for activities with native trees, including art like Andrew Goldsworthy, and the Ogham tree alphabet.

There was a lot of sharing in the break-out rooms, and participants agreed to run tree activities which we look forward to hearing all about. Thank you Eden Project Communities for the invite and we look forward to the next online event!

Midlands Forest Network

Tonia, Simon, & Mac at the launch for the Midlands Forest Network.
Tonia Clark, Simon Needle, and Ian McDermott at the launch of the Midlands Forest Network.

Four years ago, we submitted a proposal paper to the West Midlands Combined Authority, suggesting a “Midlands Forest” project would be a fantastic idea to rival the great work on the Northern Forest.

Wednesday 7th February, three Trustees – Tonia Clark, Simon Needle, and Ian McDermott – were invited to attend the formal launch of the Midlands Forest Network at The Exchange in Birmingham. A packed room heard from various VIP’s from the Woodland Trust, Midlands Engine, DEFRA, and others that the two-year formal scoping phase of this project is now live.

BTP were given a shout-out, thanks to the pivotal work we’ve been doing in the city, and we are very pleased and proud to be part of this potentially impactful programme.

iTree Eco Tree Planting

We gathered in Loxton Park, 26th January 2024, to plant three trees to celebrate the success of the iTree Eco Survey of 2023. The survey was commissioned by West Midlands Combined Authority and carried out in partnership between BTP, Treeconomics, Barton Hyett, and Forest Research. The Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street, joined us to plant the tree that the wonderful Parks Team from Birmingham City Council prepared, taking part in this momentous occasion with us.

The survey collected data from 1,000 sample plots across Birmingham, Solihul, and Coventry, the former being BTP’s focus. Thanks to our fantastic and growing network of urban forest volunteers, like Krish Kumar who came along that morning after being a staple volunteer during the surveying, the survey was completed in an unbelievable two weeks! We will be posting more about the results very soon.

Krish Kumar helping to dig the tree pit for the iTree Eco tree planting commemoration.

Representatives from the Mayor’s Office, WMCA, Treeconomics, Amazon, Birmingham City Council (including the Parks Team, who have helped us throughout our planting) were all in attendance for this wonderful event. The Mayor learned how to plant a tree first-hand! The Cabinet Member for the Environment and Councillor for Bromford and Hodge Hill, Majid Mahmood, arrived after afternoon prayers to show his advocacy for the tree planting and iTree initiatives, but he is already a planting-pro after helping BTP throughout Tree Week 2023.

We have been humbled and truly welcome all the warm support and assistance we have received with these citizen science projects. Placing community and its people at the forefront of the programmes, what we have achieved together as a result is something incredible and worthy of praise. Thank you to everyone involved this day, and every other day, that made the iTree Eco Survey a great experience.

Andy and Majid for iTree Eco planting.