Tree conference invites community-led initiatives for reforestation in Somerset

And highlights vital role of trees for the wellbeing of people and planet 

Community-led proposals for tree planting and global reforestation will be debated and explored at The Tree Conference at the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury on Saturday 4 November.

Leading-edge tree scientists, tree and reforestation project leaders, climate change experts and artists will come together to share their research, practical projects and visions for re-greening our future. 

Suzi Martineau, Organiser of The Tree Conference, says: 

“Mounting evidence shows that trees have a crucial role to play in sustaining our ecosystem’s future. In November 2015, the UN leader’s statement on Forests and Climate Change stated that ‘Reducing emissions from and enhancing removals through forests can reduce billions of tons of emissions per year and are essential to prevent catastrophic climate change’. 

“So we’re delighted to be showcasing many local inspirational tree projects and artists, providing a unique networking platform and space to explore how here in the UK we can give back to the world by tree planting. The Tree conference is calling for planting to replace the considerable loss of elm in Somerset in the 1970s and to accommodate for the potential loss of ash trees – this initiative alone would take us back to the forest cover we enjoyed in the 1950s.” 

Keynote speakers at the conference will include Bruce Parry, Diana Beresford-Kroeger, Alan Rayner, and Clare Dubois and Wendy Stephenson of TreeSisters, while the day’s lively panel discussion will feature Professor Sir David Read, lead author of the Forestry Commission’s report Combating Climate Change: A Role for UK Trees. The day’s key talks and debates will be broadcast to a global audience via Livestream.

The Tree Conference is collaborating with lots of local tree projects in Somerset. These include working with Glastonbury Council through its Neighbourhood Town Plan to identify wildlife corridors; collaborating with the National Trust on tree planting plans for Glastonbury Tor, and with local landowners and farmers on planting projects.  The conference is also teaming up with local groups to create Tree Guardian Maps so those who care about tree coverage locally can walk certain paths several times a year to check on the health of trees and feed that back to the council.

Suzi Martineau says: “There are so many amazing people working with trees in Somerset, who we’re delighted to be collaborating with, including Dan Morrell, Founder of Future Forests, who coined the phrase ‘Carbon Neutral’ and whose many tree planting projects have helped grow over 13 million trees. We’re also excited to be working with Bon Everson,  who is doing amazing work growing mycorrhizal fungi to clear toxins from the soil on industrial sites, including at the Red Brick Building where our conference is being held, on the site of a former tannery. We’d love to hear about more inspiring projects with trees in Somerset, so if you have one, please do write and tell us about it, sending an email to” 

The Woodland Trust are among the many partners supporting the conference, who will be sharing information about their Charter for Trees, Woods and People, to be launched on Monday 6 November, inaugurating the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest.  Other conference partners include the Royal Forestry Society (the foremost forestry accreditation body), the International Tree Foundation, The Gaia Foundation and Treeconomics.

The conference will also be sharing recent unexpected breakthroughs made by Wendy Stephenson, Treasurer of global reforestation charity TreeSisters. Wendy is also CEO of Converging World, a charity investing in renewable energy which uses the surplus funds for reforestation.

Wendy Stephenson says: “Reforestation is a no brainer in terms of the cost to reduce 1 tonne of C02 with any technology like solar or wind compared to a tree and the many benefits it brings, not least because they keep us alive. And most technology only avoids CO2 it does not sequester it. We have to do it all, and we need to accelerate sequestration through reforestation which is one of the most cost effective ways of cooling the planet. It also serves so many other aspects of restoring our world, including  biodiversity, water retention and microclimate.” 

The Tree Conference’s associated Art Exhibition, running from 16th October to 18th November, will showcase the work of many eminent artists, including Elyse Pomeranz, famous for her Conversations with Trees watercolours, and Olivia Clifton Bligh whose screen printing expresses the ancient druidic understanding of trees as sacred portals to knowledge and wisdom.  Dr Alan Rayner’s groundbreaking scientific work will also be evoked through a series of stunning, bio-chemically informed paintings.

Other questions to be explored at The Tree Conference include: 

  • Which trees can accommodate predicted temperature changes in the UK?
  • What can be done to prevent the forest fires that have plagued the US, Europe and Russia this year?
  • How can we support the health of Ash, Chestnut, Oak and Conifers?
  • How can the government meet it’s pledge to plant 11 million trees in two years?
  • When is reforestation not the answer for some landscapes?
  • Why wait until 2050 to become Carbon Neutral?

Clare Dubois, Founder of TreeSisters, says:

“We’re thrilled to be part of The Tree Conference. Tree planting and reforestation are initiatives whose time has come. This conference provides an exemplary template for other conferences to use worldwide. It also underlines that it’s time for us all to step into a much deeper relationship with trees. Trees offer us profound templates for how to live, and how to communicate and build resilience together, as well as for how to survive as a species. Let’s collectively seed trees in our hearts and minds and make reforestation core to everything we do.”

Buy your Early Bird tickets for The Tree Conference by Sunday 15 October!