Wood for the trees
Trees don’t - well - grow on trees. They need nurturing and sometimes protecting. Tree Preservation Orders first came in in 1947, and they ensure that people can’t cut down, or lop, or top, or generally mess around with, the designated tree or trees, without permission of the district council.
Its a power that needs some justification, before the district council will put in a 0protection order. But anyone can apply for a TPO - it doesn’t have to be your land. And in some cases the TPO is applied for because of concerns locally about what the landowner is doing with their trees. Experts tell me that whereas in the 70s and 80s TPOs were really on the frontline of environmental protection, nowadays most landowners are more responsible. Where trees are being properly managed and looked after, a TPO generally will not be put in place.
In terms of nurturing, its better to have communities looking after their woodlands - with appropriate expert advice of course.
That’s happening in Fowlmere where the parish council is close to reaching agreement on taking over some land from the county on a long lease to use as a community orchard near the school, retaining the existing trees. In Duxford the Brewery Fields will take care of the existing woodland while making the whole area more open and accessible.
In Whittlesford the Millenium Wood was planted by the village on land owned by the County Council and has been coming along nicely for the past two decades. I’ve been in touch with the surveyors who work for the county so that we can have a site meeting to assess what work needs to be done now that some of the trees are reaching maturity. I’m asking that various village groups will help with the work although some of it will require some expertise, not just enthusiastic wielding of a bow-saw.
At the same time, a promise by the district council to make good some over-zealous cutting back of natural habitat, and plant some fruit trees as recompense, is being explored. This was going to happen a few years back but there were very strong objections from households nearby. The site proposed is not too far from the school, and so hopefully some junior waterers will be willing to help the trees through their first few seasons.