TreeLogga Progress Report – Urban Tree Talk

Last weekend we were delighted to be asked to give a talk at a session preparing for next years’ London Urban Tree Festival. Here we want give you a progress report for the TreeLogga project so far.

The TreeLogga Project Team

My husband and I set up the TreeLogga Project a few months ago. Our son’s daily interest in all things tree-related is a constant reminder to us why we want greater community engagement in street trees.

Team TreeLogga
The TreeLogga Project Team

I’m Carly Hayes. I’ve spent several years working in medical research, am trained as a Medical Writer and have a PhD in Genetics. A couple of years ago, while on maternity leave with my son, I retrained as a Social Media Manager. In this role I have worked on campaigns on ageism and mindfulness.

My husband, Lee Hayes, is a Data Analyst in the Financial Sector. He’s also a long-running campaigner for improved walking/cycling infrastructure and clean air across London. His campaign interests are what led us to thinking about the benefits of street trees.

Summary of Current Goals

Our mission statement is ‘Growing urban trees into community assets’. By this we mean that we want to make people appreciate the importance of the street trees they take for granted and walk past every day. We aim to do this by encouraging residents to collaborate with like-minded neighbours and local authorities to plant, maintain and protect local street trees.

The main focus of our campaign is getting residents to log local street trees, or empty tree pits where new trees could be planted, using an app. We would then like these residents to become TreeLoggas, taking responsibility for these logged trees and updating the app when the status of each tree changes.

Lifecycle of an Urban Tree

One of the first things we did when we set up this project was to think about how urban trees are different to trees in a forest. As part of this, we created the lifecycle of an urban tree.

Urban Tree Lifecycle
Lifecycle of an Urban Tree

Urban trees are grown in nurseries, before being planted on streets or green areas that often do not provide ideal conditions for growth. It is therefore at this early stage (#NewTree) that these trees are most vulnerable. However, our lifecycle shows that mature trees are also under threat. Action must be taken during droughts, when they’re damaged by external factors or diseases/pests and when they become overgrown.

Our aim is to get our TreeLoggas monitoring their favourite street trees and using the different stages of the lifecycle to keep updating our records on the status of each tree. We can then provide this information to local councils and other authorities to ensure that these trees are maintained and protected as much as possible.

Our TreeLoggas So Far

We’ve interacted with the very helpful TiCL Team and are using their app to map trees. We’re logging existing trees and empty tree pits (#TreeHoles) in Waltham Forest (see here for instructions on how to use the app to map existing trees and here for #TreeHoles). After a request on Twitter, we’ve also set up a tree holes map for Redbridge, although our initial focus is still on the borough of Waltham Forest, which is our test case.

A number of residents have started logging trees on each map, and we’ve met several of these residents in person. They’ve been very helpful in providing feedback on our project and raising more complicated issues related to street tree care. These residents are very invested in street trees already. They’re regularly out watering street trees and planting flowers in tree pits, and are keen to help with planting and maintaining new street trees.

Friends Who are TreeLoggas
Two Friends Who Water Street Trees and Plant in Tree Pits
A Family of TreeLoggas
A Family Who Water and Maintain Street Trees
Anna and her two sons by their tree
A Family Who Water This Oak Every Day

Progress in other areas

We’ve also made contact with a number of local ward councillors in Waltham Forest. Shortly, we’re hoping to set up an event in our ward to begin a dialogue between residents and the council regarding street trees. Connections have been made with Redbridge councillors and urban tree champions in other areas of the country. Therefore, we hope to be able to scale up the campaign once our initial testing stage is complete.

Through interactions on Twitter and our presentation at an Urban Tree Talk last week, we have connected with a number of experts in the field of aboriculture and with other very successful London community groups. They’ve all been very helpful with suggestions for us, moving forward.

Future plans

We’ve heard from a Tree Officer at Waltham Forest Council that they’re planting 100 trees this planting season, so our current focus is to encourage residents to map tree holes. We’ll then pass on this information to the council in the hope that new trees will be planted in these locations shortly.

We plan to interact more with local gardening groups and residents associations moving forward, to encourage more residents to become TreeLoggas. We’d also like to use their expertise to apply for funding from sources separate to the council, as there are a number of charities that provide free trees to community groups for planting.

Our final major aim will be to encourage residents to get involved in watering their local street trees, in particular ahead of the Summer warm period next year. We’re still considering how best to do this and would love to hear your thoughts.

Charter for Trees, Woods & People (the Tree Charter)

If you’ve heard of the Tree Charter but aren’t sure what it’s all about then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a quick rundown of what it all means for those who only have a few minutes to spare.

The preparation of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People (or Tree Charter) was proposed by The Woodland Trust in 2015. The aim was to get people working together to challenge the issues facing the UK’s trees, woods and people.

Over 70 organisations and 450 local groups contributed 60,000 tree stories to support and inform those preparing the charter. Many organisations contributed to the drafting of the Tree Charter or reviewing each of the drafts. The Tree Charter was launched in Lincoln in November 2017. The final version of the charter was written in calligraphy and consists of 10 key principles to better support trees in the UK:

  • Sustain landscapes rich in wildlife
  • Plant for the future
  • Celebrate the power of trees to inspire
  • Grow forests of opportunity and innovation
  • Protect irreplaceable trees and woods
  • Plan greener local landscapes
  • Recover health, hope and wellbeing with the help of trees
  • Make trees accessible to all
  • Combat the threats to our habitats
  • Strengthen our landscapes with trees
A section of The Tree Charter, written in calligraphy
A Section of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People

The Tree Charter release was supported by 70 organisations, 300 local groups and over 100,000 individuals. This highlights just how many people care about trees! Since then, many other organisations, groups and individuals have joined (including us!). It’s not too late to add your name to the Tree Charter. Just click here for more information on the charter and here to add your signature. To date, 135,966 people have signed the Tree Charter!

The Tree Charter is celebrated by 11 carved wooden Tree Charter Principle Poles and eight art residencies across the UK. Also, there is a National Tree Charter Day, which is the last Saturday in November every year. It falls within National Tree Week.

One of the many important points made in the Tree Charter is that “Young people feel increasingly disconnected from the natural environment.” If you are a teacher or parent, you can help combat this and access some great Tree Charter resources from the Woodland Trust by clicking here.

All information was taken from The Woodland Trust Tree Charter website.

 

Creepy Crawlies and Poorly Trees (Part 2) – For Kids

Creepy crawlies may look cute, but they can really hurt our local trees and we need to watch out for them. Trees can also catch diseases that make them poorly.

Starry Sky (Asian Longhorn) Beetle

This beetle is black with white spots. It likes to eat lots of different types of trees. It was seen in England 6 years ago but all infected trees were cut down and it hasn’t been seen since. Keep a look out for it!

If this beetle is living in the trees near you, you will see small (1 cm wide) holes in the trunk of the tree and sandy piles a the bottom of the tree (beetle poo). You might also see areas where the bark has been scratched off.

Trees around the infected tree will need to be cut down, but this will stop the beetles spreading to lots of other trees in the area and across the country. If you think you’ve seen one of these beetles, tell your parents and ask them to report it straight away. Click here for more information on this beetle.

Asian Longhorn, which looks like a starry sky
Starry Sky (Asian Longhorn) Beetle

Bird Cherry Ermine

Moth of bird cherry ermine
Bird Cherry Ermine

These moths are white with black spots. They do well in warm Summers and are common this year. They have been seen in England and Scotland.  The caterpillars of these moths only eat bird cherry trees. The caterpillars make the trees look like ghosts, as they spin a white web over the whole tree and eat all of the tree’s leaves.

The caterpillars do not kill the tree and the leaves grow back when they have turned into moths. These caterpillars are also not dangerous to you or your pets, and should not be confused with the horse chestnut leaf miner caterpillars.

Check out The Herald and the Scottish Wildlife Trust websites for more information on the bird cherry ermine.

Emerald Ash Borer

These little beetles haven’t been seen in the UK yet, but have killed a lot of ash trees in other countries. They like to make holes in the bark of ash trees and tunnel into the tree. Once they’ve found a tree they like, the tree will die 2–3 years after the beetles arrive.

Green Ash Borer Beetle
Emerald Ash Borer Beetle

Trees with yellowing or sparse leaves might be infected with these beetles. Also, woodpeckers are often be seen on infected trees, as they like to eat these beetles.

If you think you’ve seen one of these beetles, tell your parents and ask them to report it straight away. More information on these beetles can be found on the Woodland Trust website.

Red Band Needle Blight

This tree blight (or disease) is caused by a fungus (like a mushroom). Red band needle blight targets pines and conifer trees. Once trees become infected, they lose more and more needles every year and eventually these trees will die.

Infected pine needles often go brown
Pine Needles Browning After Infection

This tree disease is found across the UK and affects more pine trees than conifers. Be careful if you think you see signs of infected trees. The fungus can be spread to new areas by the wind but also on your clothing or shoes! You don’t have to notify anyone of the diseased trees, although it would would be helpful to stop other trees becoming infected.

More information on this tree disease can be found on the Forestry Commission website.

 

Creepy Crawlies and Poorly Trees – Educating Kids

Trees are like us and they get poorly too. They don’t get coughs and colds like we do, but they can be infected with diseases and different creepy crawlies. As we’re sure you’re all looking out for ripe conkers, we’ve included things that affect conker (horse chestnut) trees in this first blog post.

Horse Chestnut Canker

A canker is a sore patch on a tree. These sores are caused by a disease found in England and Scotland and that is becoming more common. The tree can look like it is sore or bleeding on the trunk and on the branches. Big trees can die from this disease, but smaller ones are most likely to die. If you see sores or bleeding like in the picture, ask an adult to inform the Forestry Commission. Further images of cankers can be found here.

bleeding on trunk
Bleeding on trunk of horse chestnut

Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner

Moth form of horse chestnut miner
Horse chestnut leaf miner moth

These moths are named because their caterpillars like to ‘mine’ into the leaves of horse chestnut trees. The caterpillars then eat the leaves. These tree pests are found in England and Wales.

Caterpillar of horse chestnut leaf miner
Horse chestnut leaf miner caterpillar

They don’t damage the tree but they make brown lines on the leaves and the leaves then drop off early (at the end of Summer rather than in the Autumn). Most infected trees are being monitored regularly, so you don’t need to report these infections.

Infected leaves
Leaves infected by leaf miner caterpillars

Suggested science activity: Take two leaves from a tree you think is infected. Brush off any insects you can see on the leaves and put them in a sealed plastic bag, keeping some of the air in the bag. Keep them out of bright light and store them for two weeks. If the tree is infected the caterpillars and moths should come out of the leaves.

Do you see any adult moths? Do you see any tiny wasps (these can eat the caterpillars)? Do you notice anything different about the size of the conkers of infected trees compared to uninfected trees?

Oak Processionary Moths

Found in certain spots in England, including London. The hairy caterpillar of this moth hurts oak trees by eating their leaves. The caterpillars like to walk together in a line or group to form a silky nest.

caterpillars of oake processionary moth in a line
Caterpillars of oak processionary moth in a line
Nest formed by the moths
Silky nest formed by oak processionary moths

Beware, they can give you a rash and make you very poorly if you touch them or any of their hairs. They can also make your pets poorly. Keep away from any caterpillars or any nests you find and ask an adult to alert the Forestry Commission.

(Adapted from info from The Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission and the Conker Tree Citizen Science Project)

TiCL App for Mapping Trees

TiCL website map showing trees successfully mapped

This weekend we had a great meeting with one of the founders of TiCL. We are hoping to work with them to log trees in Waltham Forest and to get residents communicating with each other to look after their trees. More on this soon.

To help us log trees, you will need to:

  1. Download ‘TiCL’ for android or iphone
  2. Register your details and activate your account in order to use it
  3. When you open the app, you will see a list of headlines, ordered based proximity to your current location. If you do not have ‘location’ activated on your phone you need to do this now (Note: headlines are the ‘trails’ listed by different users in the app) 
    TiCL App home screen
    Home screen of TiCL App

    If you cannot see ‘Waltham Forest Trees’ at the top of the headlines list, select the search option in the top right corner of the app and search for ‘Waltham Forest Trees’ in the key word field

    'Waltham Forest Trees' results in search tool
    Search for ‘Waltham Forest Trees’
  4. Select ‘Waltham Forest Trees’ from the list by clicking on the title of the record. You will then open up the ‘Headline’ or in our case the record containing all the trees.
  5. Your tree may already exist! Before you add a new tree record, please check the TiCL map via the website link here: https://ticl.me/ (you will need to log in, select ‘Waltham Forest Trees’ and then zoom in on the map)

    TiCL website map showing trees successfully mapped
    TiCL website map showing tree locations
  6. To add a new tree record, you need to be at the tree’s location with your ‘location’ activated on your phone. In the app, select ‘Add Article To The List Below’
  7. In the free text box, please add the lifecycle stage (find more details of this here) and the common species name of the tree, such as Ash or Plum (if you’re not an expert, you can use the Woodland Trust app to work out what species it is. No species prediction app is perfect, so if you are still not convinced that the information you have entered here is right, please send us a comment and some photos so that we can get an expert to confirm. Useful photos would be of the leaves and the branch formations)

    Record of a new tree
    Details recorded in new tree record
  8. Make sure that the ‘Show My Location’ box is ticked and use phone camera to ‘Take Photo’ of your tree. An image of the whole of the tree is best.
  9. Click ‘Submit’
  10. It is a good idea to then select the ‘Map’ button on your tree record to make sure that the app has mapped your tree in the correct location.

And you are done!

Map of individual tree location
Map of tree location

If you would like to make any changes or to comment on an existing tree record, Select the tree from the list in the app and add your comment in the free text box. If you press comment everyone who has a TiCL App login will be able to see your comment. To send a comment only to the user who created the tree record, select ‘Private Reply for Article Author’ before pressing ‘Comment’ (Note: The app will only post records and comments with your first name and the first letter of your surname) 

If you would like to send a comment to us at TreeLogga via the app, please click on the first record (which refers to the Headline rather than an individual tree) and select ‘Private Reply for Article Author’

Adding a comment on a tree record
Updating a tree record

With the help of the TiCL App team, we want to go so much further than simply mapping trees in the borough of Waltham Forest. We’d like to use this app to link your personal tree stories to each tree and to get neighbours talking about tree watering and tree care. If you have a tree story you’d like to share, please get in touch so that we can turn it into a blog post and link it to your tree record!

Also, please let us know if there is any other information you’d like to be captured about your trees!

A final note to say that the TiCL App can be used to log community assets other than trees. More information is available here, or you can contact @TiCLme to discuss using the app for your own project.

Tree Story of Anna, Our First Tree Hero

At the heart of this campaign are your interactions with your favourite trees. To highlight how important you find your urban trees we have asked our first tree hero, Anna from Leytonstone, to be a guest blogger and to tell us her tree story:

“My tree is a 20 ft oak (I’d say probably about 15–20 years old) that was planted earlier in the year (with some fanfare) by the council to fill a long vacant spot by the busy A12 flyover. It appeared to be doing well, but then the heatwave kicked in. We were out of the country for 10 days and on our return at the beginning of July I noticed that the upper leaves had all turned brown. For the next week I kept an eye on it, as I walk past it every day, and it seemed to be going downhill rapidly. As a newly planted tree it didn’t have the established root system it needed to survive without frequent rain.

So I decided that I wasn’t prepared to stand by and watch it die when I could at least try to help.

So every day, me and my two young sons fill up all the empty bottles we can find and cram them in the bottom of the buggy. We stop at the tree on the way to their nursery, the boys love watering the tree and now talk about it to their family and friends as ‘our tree’. Every day my 2 year old asks if we’re going to water ‘my plant’.

After a week of watering almost all of the brown leaves fell off, then today, 2 weeks in, we were very excited to see that the tree is covered in new buds.

#TreeInTrouble but showing signs of recovery
Anna’s oak showing signs of recovery after watering

I had a little teary moment this morning when I imagined the tree in the future years, happy and healthy, knowing that we did our bit to make sure people can enjoy it well beyond our own time. Whatever happens now, that will always be ‘our tree’.”

Anna and her two sons by their tree
Anna and her two boys by their tree, which is now thriving

We got in touch with Anna after she posted on a local Facebook group to encourage others to help water this tree. The group discussion for her post highlighted that a number of other residents are also watering this tree, including a man who was using a water butt on a trolley! We’d really like to meet each resident to give them a pat on the back and to ask them to tell us their tree story. Please get in touch if you know who they are! Also, if your own local tree is in trouble and you have been watering it, please get in touch and tell us your tree story!

Lifecycle of an Urban Tree

Urban lifecycle of a tree

We don’t just want you to log tree locations and species, we want you to sign up as a steward for your favourite local tree, to monitor its urban lifecycle and to help water it.

The fields you fill in to log your favourite tree are still being developed so please let us know if you have any suggestions! One of these will be to report the lifecycle stage of your tree. This urban lifecycle has been specifically designed to capture when each tree is vulnerable and to highlight when action needs to be taken by residents or the appropriate authorities. This urban lifecycle is represented above. Each stage is associated with an appropriate Twitter hashtag.

Tree damaged (#TreeInTrouble)

Our ultimate aim is for residents to log a tree through a web app (in development) and record the relevant lifecycle stage for that tree. Residents can then tweet us (@TreeLogga) to let us know if the lifecycle stage of that tree changes. They would also include a recent photo of the tree. We can then update the tree map and notify the appropriate authorities.

Tree recently removed (#Dudewheresmytree?)

You will be given the option to sign up as a steward when you first register a tree. If you select yes, you will receive notifications about your tree and you will be asked to take on some responsibility for the care of that tree and be able to update the information about your tree directly. We hope that tree stewarding will make it easier for residents to get more involved in their urban environment. Tree stewarding should also prevent one resident of a road having to care for all the trees on that road and allow you to work out who else is invested in your favourite tree!

Please let us know if you have any thoughts on our tree urban lifecycle.

 

 

TreeLogga’s Tree Holes Initiative

One of TreeLogga’s key initiatives is to help fill as many of Waltham Forest’s tree holes as possible with new trees. Waltham Forest Council are committed to replacing any trees that are removed or cut down, where possible (more details of their tree strategy can be found here). However this doesn’t always happen and residents are left wondering why.

With your help, we can send Waltham Forest Council the details of any tree holes and suggest stewards that are prepared to help support these new trees. Please note that this initiative will focus on urban street trees rather than private trees in residents’ gardens.

What are tree holes?

Tree holes are sites where trees have been removed or that have been prepared for trees, but where new trees have not yet been planted.

Who will pay for new trees?

Firstly, Waltham Forest Council has a quota of new trees to fill and we’re approaching planting season, so now is the perfect time to suggest new locations and volunteer to steward new trees. Secondly, there are a number of other schemes available to fund the planting of new trees, such as those run by the Woodland Trust, TFL and the Mayor of London (more details to follow in future blog posts). Isn’t it a shame that we could have even more trees in the borough, in places of our choosing, if people were more aware of the funding sources available?

Which trees will be planted?

Waltham Forest Council have been using the catch phrase, “The right tree in the right place for the right reason.”  By this they mean that they take a lot of things into consideration when planting a tree, including making sure the species is right for the type of soil and the amount of space in that location. This often didn’t happen in the past and has resulted in a legacy of healthy trees put at risk as they come into conflict with their urban environment.

How do I log Tree Holes/Tree Stumps?

If there’s a tree stump or tree hole in Waltham Forest that you’d like to log, please download the TiCL app and search for the headline ‘Tree Holes Initiative’, you can then create tree records adding either #TreeHole or #TreeStumped at the start of the record (see the examples that have already been entered into TiCL). If there are any newly planted trees that died in the recent heatwave, please enter #DeadTree as the hashtag. More specific instructions for mapping Tree Holes are coming soon.