This year our Annual General Meeting was combined with a training session on veteran trees and held at Daglingworth on 5th October.
Meeting up at the Village Hall, we eased ourselves into the day with coffee and biscuits and then dealt with the necessary procedure of holding our AGM. Chairman Mike Hartnell gave a report on what activity the Group had undertaken in the preceding twelve months and Finance Officer Alan Jones presented the accounts for the year ended 31st March 2019. There being no offers from the Group to stand for election to the Committee, the existing members were re-elected en bloc. Mike Hartnell and Christopher Coghlan were re-elected as Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively.
That business concluded, the training session started, and we were pleased to be joined by a recently appointed Wiltshire Tree Warden as well as contacts from outside the Cotswolds. Mike Hartnell presented the topic of Veteran Trees. We have been fortunate to have access to a Training Programme created by Ian McDermott, a retired Tree Officer from the Midlands. The content is used regularly by the very active Tree Warden Networks across the West Midlands. It includes material on veteran trees, with documents and videos. Mike used some of this material along with information from his own professional knowledge. The training videos were a useful source of advice, information and warnings, reinforcing Mike’s messages. Afterwards delegates all seemed to have found out something new, relating to veteran trees, but also to younger ones to which much of the material was still pertinent.
After a buffet lunch, which gave everyone chance to network, we headed a short distance down the road to Overley Woods. Bathurst Estate Forestry Manager/committee member, Keith Mills was unable to be present, but had advised Alan Jones where to find some interesting specimens. Veteran trees are important not only because there are limited numbers of them and they take generations to reach that status, but they are vital in helping maintain a healthy environment and promote biodiversity. Those we visited included Scots pine in the Botany Bay Plantation, a reference to the original planting around the time of James Cook’s trip to that coastal area of Australia. (And to save you looking it up, it was 1770.) Safe to say, those trees surviving are at least veterans, probably ancient.
Our walk gave us room for tea and cake back at the hall. Alan Jones introduced a discussion on the Ancient Tree Inventory set up by the Woodland Trust, with examples from local parishes. Hopefully delegates headed home with a little more knowledge and appetites whetted to promote tree welfare even more in their communities.