Sheffield Woodland Connections



A small team of the Department of Landscape’s alumni organised four interpretive walks in Ecclesall Woods in 2017 to celebrate the launch of the Woodland Charter

The team, Sheffield Woodland Connections (SWC), consists of five post-graduate alumni from the Landscape Department. SWC is part of the national Tree Charter campaign, which celebrates the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest (issued in the same period as the Magna Carta). Coordinated by the Woodland Trust, the goal of the Tree Charter campaign is to instil understanding, engagement and fascination in trees and woodlands. The interpretive walks that SWC has offered in Ecclesall Woods since April 2017 have been met with consistent enthusiasm and interest. In addition to learning about woodland ecology and ID skills, participants are invited to measure trees, and to share their sketches and poems.

At a time when many in Sheffield are caught up by the controversial street tree felling that is taking place in the city, the Tree Charter project offers the antidote of connecting people with semi-natural woodlands. The group led four walks in the spring and summer of 2017, and three autumn events, all starting from the Woodland Discovery Centre and exploring the area around. Covering different aspects of the woodland’s planting and management, as well as exploring the contemporary ecology of this semi-natural wood, the walks presented an informal and friendly way to share insights and knowledge with those who attended the walks.

“Personally, I welcome any excuse to spend more time in the woods. The Charter Champions project has catalysed a great web of collaborations, and it’s heartening to be part of a project combining so much expertise and so many interests.” Fran Halsall

In collaboration with the Friends and other groups, SWC has created the most current map of Ecclesall Woods, both for paths but also notable trees, shrubs, wildflower displays, and other points of interest. These and other resources are available as free downloads from the website. SWC also benefits Ecclesall Woods and Sheffield in the form of citizen science, as data collected by participants on individual trees are centralised into a database. Similarly, participants who ‘adopt’ a feature, like a veteran tree or a habitat log, are invited to make regular records of it through the changing seasons (e.g., photographs, drawings, writing and measuring) and to share these to the website.


Sheffield Woodland Connections -IMG_2858
“There are so many ways to express one’s appreciation for the natural environment. Given its accessibility, it made sense to celebrate the Tree Charter in South Yorkshire’s largest ancient woodland, Ecclesall Woods.” Christine Thuring

SWC have been collecting signatures for the Tree Charter. If you haven’t signed yet, you can do so online. This charter will serve as a petition, re-vitalising the values that are as current today as they were when the charter was drafted 800 years ago. The aims of the Tree Charter include facilitating interest and engagement with woodlands and trees; promoting the development of ecological sensibilities with regards to the complexity and magic of ancient woodlands; and encouraging the expression of personal connections with trees and woodlands.

You can add your voice to the petition here: The Tree Charter.

Fran, Christine, Christos, Jack and Camilla


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