Shade of the Canopy

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.

Debt Justice Treemembrance Planting

Debt Justice 1998

A special Gingko Biloba tree was planted today, in the City Centre Gardens, to celebrate the 11-mile-long human chain that circled Birmingham on 16th May 1998, organised by the Debt Justice Coalition. 70,000 people changed the world, as $130 billion of debt was cancelled because of this mass protest, with buses bringing campaigners from Europe.

The commemorative plaque reads: “Debt Justice Birmingham group played a significant role in the golden jubilee debt campaign that won $130 billion debt relief for lower income countries. Here, on 16 May 1998, 70,000 people surrounded a global leaders’ summit to create pressure for change.”

Debt Justice Birmingham group plaque
The crowd of up towards 50 people at the Treemembrance planting.

Debt Justice is our first Treemembrance planting!

Ruth (original member) and Richard Tetlow, part of the organisation, liaised with Birmingham TreePeople to plant a commemorative tree under the Treemembrance programme, to honour that day and the greatness that was achieved. Rachel Stevens, a 90-year-old campaigner was in attendance, along with Matt Gardener of Debt Justice current staff, John Nightingale who raised £2,000 for the campaign and the current Birmingham branch Chair, David Nicholls also of Debt Justice and a Smethwick Labour Councillor, Izzy Knowles local Councillor for Moseley, John Cotton (who participated in 1998) of Birmingham City Council who planted the tree, Heidi Chow the current Head of the Debt Justice Campaign, and many others up towards 50 people in attendance!

The digging, planting, and organising team for the treemembrance planting.

Let’s not forget the crew that helped organise the logistics of the event! Julianne Statham BTP Trustee for Treemembrance, and Ian McDermott BTP Trustee and Trainer. Emma McAuliffe of BCC, the digging and planting team Jez and Kam. As well as everyone behind the scenes who pulled together to make this day a truly fantastic celebration.

Julianne, who provided the images and captions, said,
“With the Gingko’s reputation for long living, it will serve as a lasting memorial to the power of ordinary people, to be able to change the world.”

Tree Equity

Krish and Raghav Kumar, BTP volunteers, professionally photographed by Phil Formby for Woodland Trust’s Tree Equity Score.

Originally assisting The Woodland Trust as consultants during the preliminary phase, Birmingham TreePeople contributed towards the launch of WT’s Tree Equity Score, by demonstrating and explaining some of the work we have already been doing in the City of Birmingham, with the Urban Forest Masterplan.

Krish Kumar and Raghav Kumar, pictured with Catherine Nuttgens (WT) during their interview, by Phil Formby.

BTP’s relationship with WT has developed further, as both charities are contributing towards the Urban Forest Accelerator, where our joint focus on tree equity is a prominent feature of the project. BTP have been planting in the wards we have due to those areas having low tree equity. So, what exactly is Tree Equity, and why does it matter to us?

Low tree equity means that an area is lacking in trees, and an area with high tree equity has most benefits of green spaces. That’s why our priority wards targeted areas with lower canopy cover, to raise the tree equity. WT says on their new page: ‘Tree equity is the idea that all communities have equitable access to the benefits of trees where they live. While some urban areas enjoy abundant greenery and tree cover, others lack these essential natural assets.’

Tree Equity Photography, Nechells

Charlotte McDermott, BTP’s Communications Officer, along with Krish Kumar and Raghav Kumar, took the lovely group from WT (Catherine, Amber, and Phil) to Nechells, one of our priority wards where we planted with the community last year, to capture many professional photos of good and bad tree equity, including our wonderful urban forest volunteers to be the face of the equity score campaign.

Krish and Raghav Kumar, BTP volunteers, professionally photographed by Phil Formby for WT's Tree Equity.
Raghav and Krish outside the Queens and Home Towers in Nechells, where BTP planted last year.

It was a hot summer day in Nechells, and we had a nice time at the photoshoot. Catherine interviewed our keen volunteers about their relationship with nature and why they volunteered, the young men also proved to be incredibly photogenic, and Raghav showed Phil (professional photographer) some of his amateur photography skills!

We would like to thank Andy Allison, BCC Tree Officer, for providing the planting maps that Charlotte used to show WT around Nechells and its specific the planting locations. Not only this time, but for every planting session! We look forward to working with our partners this year to propel our projects even further.

Bromford Tree Planting

For the final community planting day of 2023, Bromford received a myriad of new trees. It was a warm and welcome occasion, even though it’s Winter now. We dug and planted trees alongside Birmingham City Council’s Woodland Team and a few Tree Officers, Open Door, and Friends of Hodge Hill Common. Our wonderful BTP team consisted of Katy Hawkins, Julianne Statham, and Steve Watson.

Hazel, a local resident, was able to have a gingko she chosen planted, and many other community members helped. Katy and Cath Fletcher (Open Door Green Connector) liaised to organise this special planting day across Bromford. Lisa Hodge and Jo Green from FOHHC were also present! Jo getting into the spirit by pretending to be a tree to mark the planting spot (image at the top).

In the spirit and ongoing theme of welcoming ceremonies, focusing on mindfulness and the connection between us and nature, the tree was lowered with the aid of instruments. They were also delicately decorated for Christmas, to celebrate together for our last community planting day for 2023. Laughs were had and songs were almost sung – well done everybody!

Vauxhall, Nechells Tree Planting

We planted 6 new trees on the Vauxhall Road estate this morning. They were planted alongside Nechells POD and their lovely members, who got stuck right in with the digging!

Two Autumn Purples, two redwoods, and two planes have graced the green space in Nechells. This is thanks to Katy of BTP, Chantelle Henry from the POD and the wonderful group, as well as Malcolm, Mark, and Steve from the Woodland team.

There were a lot of bricks, but the hard work was worth it, thanks to the joint effort. We also enjoyed some leafy teas and coffee afterwards to warm up. Agatha, a regular POD member, read a beautiful poem she wrote for Christmas to welcome the new trees. The new redwoods and planes have been decorated to celebrate!

A huge thanks to the Woodland team again for their fantastic support, Chantelle, Katy, and Andy of Birmingham City Council for organising this community planting. We look forward to more tree walks in the New Year!

Chantelle’s laminated tags to decorate the newly planted trees on Bloomsbury and Vauxhall with the teams that did so!

If you look closely, you can see Simon, Lee, and Majid, from the last planting session with the POD.

Windsor Place, Nechells Tree Planting

Malcolm, Steve, and Mark of the Woodland team, and BTP's Katy Hawkins, getting ready to dig the planting hole for the new windsor place tree in nechells.

After the residents were given the chance to vote between two tree species, the Japonica was chosen to be the newly planted tree today at Windsor Place, Nechells.

Katy Hawkins of BTP, Birmingham City Council‘s Woodland team (Steve and Mark), and Michael from Sheltered Housing, organised this residential tree planting and have worked hard to add this new tree to the growing green space.

Naima, one of the lovely residents at Windsor Place, Nechells, kindly joined us for the tree planting (thank you!). We all shared some coffee and laughs during the crisp planting morning.

We christened the tree altogether! Jackie Japonica was a suggested name, but we also wanted to name the tree using all our initials. However, there were too many consonants… therefore we decided on ‘Windsor’. Welcome to Nechells, Windsor!

The whole team using the mulch to christen the new tree.

Huge thanks to Michael and the Woodland team for all their help, and we look forward to the next one!

Windsor has their roots in the ground! So when is the next one?

Katy and Charley with the Sunday 17th Dec Home and Queens Towers planting flyer, inside the blocks.

We wanted to remind everyone our next community planting will take place Sunday 17th Dec, at the Home and Queens Tower blocks in Nechells. Katy and Charley, pictured left, would love to see you there, especially if you’re a resident! Contact us if you’d like more information.