The Association of Tree Officers (ATO) will promote, support and represent Tree Officers. Administrative control of ATO will be undertaken by the ATO Directors, supported by the National Co-ordinator, Becky Porter.
The Arboricultural Association, London Tree Officers Association (LTOA), Municipal Tree Officers Association (MTOA) and the Association of Tree Officers (ATO) have launched a campaign to ensure that newly planted trees are watered regularly over the summer months, highlighting the fact that young tree maintenance is just as important as planting.
The dry weather which much of the UK experienced during April raised the question about how trees might be affected by COVID-19 if those people who ordinarily water them are no longer able to do so. Hundreds of thousands of trees have been planted over the last couple of years, but without proper aftercare they will not make it into maturity.
Many local authorities and community groups have developed their own labels for trees to encourage residents to water them, but the Association felt there was a need for more generic material which would be used by residents, community groups and local authorities throughout the country if they did not have the time or resources to produce their own.
The Association has worked with tree officers across the country to develop new materials for a tree watering campaign which was launched on May 1st. This collaborative project with the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA), Municipal Tree Officers Association (MTOA) and Association of Tree Officers (ATO) has resulted in an information poster and watering tags which can be printed at home and affixed to tree stakes or tied to the tree. These are free to download and can be found online at www.trees.org.uk/watering
Arboricultural Association Technical Director John Parker said:
“it has been great to work together with the three tree officer groups on this important new campaign which helps to highlight the fact that young tree maintenance is just as important as planting.”
Building on the success of previous conferences, the fifth National Tree Officer’s Conference is being organised by the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA), the Municipal Tree Officers Association (MTOA), the Association of Tree Officers (ATO) and facilitated by the Institute of Chartered Foresters (ICF).
The conference will now be held online in November with further details to follow. Please note we are no longer looking for a call for papers but potential presentations we can use for interactive online sessions covering planning, climate change and planting, pest & disease and the last session will be a wildcard covering anything else tree officers might want to share.
On 2nd March 2020 the Association of Tree Officers (ATO) joined a workshop in London to discuss draft guidance for local authorities in relation to the forthcoming legislation in the Environment Bill 2019-21 concerning the duty to consult on the removal of street trees, and creating local Tree and Woodland Frameworks.
ATO Directors Barbara Milne and Alistair Smith attended to represent the organisation.
Other representation at the meeting included the London Tree Officers Association, Trees and Design Action Group, Woodland Trust and the Forestry and Woodland Advisory Committee. A similar session also took place in Birmingham on 25th February 2020.
Duty to Consult on the removal of street trees
Detailed discussion took place on the wording of the Bill itself, in particular in relation to the limitations of the exemptions in Bill, and also on the guidance, presented at the meeting, which has been drafted in order to assist local authorities in implementing the requirements of the legislation. Many suggestions for improving both the wording of the Bill and the draft guidance were made, and hopefully will go forward to influence the next drat of the guidance and the final wording of the Act as it passes through Parliament. A request was made for wider distribution of the draft guidance once it has been revised, and prior to publication, to allow for greater input by tree officers.
Local Tree and Woodland Frameworks
The Environment Bill does not impose a duty on local authorities to produce a Tree and Woodland Framework (i.e. a tree strategy or tree policy), but the Government is considering providing best practice advice. Broadly, there was a general conclusion that best practice advice should be flexible enough for individual local authorities to tailor their frameworks (should they choose to create one), to their own local priorities and requirements, and the frameworks should also take account of other local strategies and policies.
The ATO Directors would like to reassure all members that we are working hard to ensure business continuity for ATO at this exceptional time. We are facing new and sometimes substantial challenges to our working and personal lives, and we are all having to adapt quickly to try to maintain the services we provide to our local authorities and clients.
Until further notice, ATO are making use of conference calls and other virtual meeting technology to continue with business.
From all of the ATO Directors we hope you are all keeping safe and well, and let us also hope that normality returns before too long.