Thursday, 31 January 2013

Archive: Brockley Society Newsletter article - October 2012

This article originally appeared in the Brockley Society Newsletter in October 2012Please note that the current prices for sponsoring a street tree can be found on our blog here.

Oxygen in Brockley ... and trees

If you're interested in a simple way to improve air quality and a lot else in Brockley, I think you'd better read on.

The Brockley Society's Tree Wardens are a growing team of volunteers who believe passionately about our inherited tree stock and the real threats to it. But we need your help. Your contribution, however small, could make a vital difference to the environment of Brockley. Lewisham Council want to help plant new trees and is therefore contributing half the funds to plant 12 young trees, as part of our ongoing strategy. 5 still remain, so get in there quickly to achieve a street tree outside your home for only £120. You can fund it yourself or talk to your neighbours about splitting the cost. 

When we hear from you, we'll check the ground to ensure an appropriate site, inquire if you had a particular tree type in mind and ask the council to act on it. Don't worry if you can't fund one because just as importantly, we are looking for 'Tree Guardians' in every street. We need people to help ensure young trees are initially cared for and watered, with any problems reported. So let us know if you are interested. 

We don't think it has ever been more obvious that if we want to improve our environment and achieve a better life for our community and future generations, it's necessary to act. I know I go on about it (!) but I believe passionately that democracy is surely about knowing what you want, standing up for what you believe and ensuring goals are achieved. There are remarkable people in Brockley; largely unsung heroes, striving to improve our lives every day. I for one want to join their ranks and help, in however admittedly small a way, to make a difference. As individuals we can make very little impact but together we are a powerful force, knowing that ultimately, our destiny can never be left to others. 

With your help, the Tree Wardens will continue building a relationship with the council and other bodies, working to promote maintenance and replacement of trees and informing you about progress [here on the blog and in the Newsletter]

If you'd like to help in any way please email:

Anthony Russell
Anthony heads the Society's Tree Wardens and is author of the book 
'Evolving the Spirit - From Democracy to Peace.'

Archive: Brockley Society Newsletter article - April 2012

The following article originally appeared in the Brockley Society Newsletter in April 2012

Are our trees in crisis?

A debate is raging among the tree officers of the Brockley Society as to whether to define the present predicament of the conservation area's tree-stock as a crisis. But whether a "crisis" or a "chronic situation", there is agreement that something urgently must be done to safeguard a feature of the area arguably more important - certainly harder to replace - than our actual buildings.

So what's the problem? I think you'd better be sitting down for this: There's strong evidence of bad planting, chronic neglect and lack of long-term tree care, resulting in an out-growing of the environment. There's an obvious lack of resources for maintenance as well as replanting, causing a constant depletion of tree numbers, where current replanting is woefully inadequate. Then there's still huge ignorance among many residents about their obligations and even about the function of trees in the environment. Residents don't seem to be aware of the need for permission to remove or do major works on any tree. Nor what they're allowed to do to care for their own trees, yet alone the overgrown street trees that the council says it has no time to manage. Little is then properly policed, where there is "ineffective, inadequate and poorly enforced laws." The council rarely turns down tree related applications and when trees are removed illegally, retrospective applications are put in place with no apparent enforcement action.

Add to this the realisation that honey fungus and other diseases are evidently taking a heavy toll (though the true extent is unknown); that young trees are being stolen or run over by vehicles and you can see that if not a crisis, it's one hell of a problem. While lack of funding is an obvious issue, personally I think this is a problem of 'spirit'. If it means anything, the Big Society should imply having a 'big spirit'. That is, all of us getting involved; volunteering to the BrocSoc as tree 'guardians' within each street; raising the money between local residents to plant trees where there are gaps and for maintenance; ensuring we know and keep to the law to protest them, while ensuring others do too; educating everyone to realise that trees protect us from pollution and improve out environment in other ways. What concerns me is that these are actually the basic prerequisites of a functioning democracy, requiring the spirit of the majority standing up to protect and nurture it. I'm saying that besides our environment, at risk here is the very way of life we seem to cherish. Unless we all act now to love our trees, our environment and our neighbours alike, we will suffocate in a wilderness in every sense of the word.

Anthony Russell is the Brockley Society's principle Tree Warden and author of the book
'Evolving the Spirit - From Democracy to Peace.'

Archive: Brockley Society Newsletter article - May 2011

The following article appeared in the Brockley Society Newsletter in MAY 2011. Please note that the current prices for sponsoring a street tree can be found on our blog here.


Thanks to the continuing support of Lewisham's Green Scene and in consultation with residents, four young trees are shortly to be placed on street locations near four separate social housing blocks. And these trees are lucky; motivated residents have volunteered to mind the vulnerable 'youngsters' and water when necessary. Encouraged by this, the Brockley Society aims to see four new arrivals planted each year, to replace those lost. That way we can ensure our neighbourhood maintains its enviable stock of trees, that are not only beautiful but purify the air and protect us and wildlife alike. It's a frightening world for a young tree, with various hazards including neglect, vandalism and careless reversing drivers. Caring residents are coming forward to offer themselves as 'guardians' of all the young trees and hopefully, if enough of you volunteer, we can have every specimen minded by a
compassionate human. Nature may be threatened worldwide but trees are making new friends in Brockley. If you would like to help in however small a capacity, do get in touch. 

While we are constantly searching for sources of funding for more trees, you are also welcome to fund one yourself. For £240, Green Scene, working with the Brockley Society, will provide and plant a tree and ensure it has a watering pipe and protection. They will also provide a replacement in the event of any damage. Alternatively, you might like to consider forming a 'syndicate' with other neighbours. For example, eight residents paying £30 would provide a new tree and the gratitude of generations to come. Maybe you would like to have a tree planted 'in memoriam' for a loved one, with a small plaque inside the fence. It only requires people to like the ideas and just make them happen. Is that The Big Society?

Contact us at:

Anthony Russell
Tree Warden
The Brockley Society