THE DENDROLOGIST'S DIARY

The Dendrologist began in the early 1980s because of the demand from tree interested people in the Chilterns and there was then, about a dozen local groups too! Dutch Elm Disease had annihilated the English elm in the late 1960s and 1970s so there was a consciousness of the fragility of our few native trees so people formed groups to look after their treescapes and the Trees and Woodlands Group of the Chiltern Society assumed an umbrella for its local area. Meanwhile, the Men of the Trees saw a huge increase in their membership throughout the English counties and it was this society that introduced their members as ‘Tree Wardens’ to help local councils protect trees and enhance woodland access in their localities. The Dendrologist found its readership gradually grew nationwide with its tree news and information and publicizing any tree groups’ events. The Tree Warden initiative became so popular it was taken over by the government setting up the Tree Council which initially was a great, national success. Many can remember the slogans ‘Plant a tree in ‘73’ and then ‘Plant some more in ‘74’ and it became a registered charity in 1978. With government funding and sponsorship organized from companies, the Tree Council was able to offer people so much more support than that of smaller, local volunteer run tree groups, so over time, the Chiltern Society Trees and Woodland Group as well as the county branches of the Men of the Trees and similar, died away

Gift Aid, introduced in the Finance Act 1990 had an effect on many local institutions, like town societies which often had tree groups. As such, their members had focused on protecting and enhancing their own environments, acting as useful local watchdogs and pressure groups but after this Act, most, very quickly became charities. This led them to forgo, or severely curtail, their pressure group activities in order to protect their new charity status that also allow them to apply for any grants on offer. The Local Government Act 2000 changed many aspects of local government including that of councillors who became paid, rather than just claiming expenses. Such measures had a diminishing effect on many aspects of civic life within England and Wales and in this context, the number of local societies including tree ones, declined further. When volunteers could not be found to take over from the retiring editor of The Dendrologist, the publication sadly closed but not before leaving behind the practical ‘A Dendrologist Handbook’ and this website in 2013. The former editor of The Dendrologist still looks after the small Little Friars Arboretum where tree identification and other courses have been run as well as guided tours given. However, the numbers of tree groups continued to decline severely so now only the Bucks Tree Club and the Severn Tree Trust remain. There is also tree walks around London:There is also tree walks around London: treewalksbettina@gmail.com.

There is a need for people to once again become more involved with trees; to catalogue their local tree treasure to ensure they are known and so protected. If people begin dendrology, the study of trees, it will not only help them identify rarities but realize the vital importance of even a single tree for in its complex relationship with soil organisms, insect population and all wildlife in that position. Trees benefits our environment, whether in towns or the countryside as well as in the fight against climate change. Whilst we adjust our lifestyles, so everyone shares in prosperity, it is imperative that wherever we live, is both as beautiful and productive as it can be, and trees are definitely one of the significant answers! By the time The Dendrologist ended its publication in 2013, more tree pests and diseases had arrived since the start of the Millennium than in the whole of previous century and this reflcets the lack of citizen engagement and people coming together - not only to enjoy trees but share concerns. If any new tree group forms, please contact our Web Master to be listed here until there is sufficient events to revive this Diary Page.

If you know of lectures and talks of interest to tree enthusiasts please send brief details in the format such as shown above to tree.forum@yahoo.co.uk and also if you would like advice on starting a tree club


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