Calls for the Church to have greater awareness of its churchyard trees were made by speakers at the first of two Churchyard Trees Conference being held this autumn. The Conference, which took place at Liverpool Cathedral on 6 October, was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and organised by The Conservation Foundation to bring together those with responsibility for church trees with arboricultural experts to support the management of the trees in the CofE’s 10,000 churchyards.
Appreciating the many demands on congregations to maintain church buildings, speakers and delegates agreed that churchyard trees were a vital asset to the country’s wellbeing and needed care which provided a huge opportunity for the Church to build links with those in the community who were not involved with their local church. The loss of churchyard trees is a loss for the whole community and the often “veteran” characteristics of churchyard trees are invaluable to wildlife.
Welcoming speakers and delegates to the Cathedral, the Dean, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Wilcox underlined how care for our environment was fundamental to Christians and noted how references to trees featured at the beginning, the end and throughout the Bible.
Canon Robert Brunswick, former rector of St Michael’s Church in Croston, Lancashire reported on his efforts to combat the effects of flooding in his parish by planting 800 trees on church land with the help of the community. Other speakers covered the heritage of church trees, the considerable legal implications affecting church trees and funding opportunities.
Speaking at the event Dr David Knight the Senior Church Buildings Officer for the Church of England said “we can be so timid in our care for churchyards and trees. The tree conference gave us many reasons to be confident in our care for trees and management of churchyards. Our trees are one of many ways that a church congregation can reach out to its community and share the welcome of the Gospel.”
Both events are organised by The Conservation Foundation in association with the Church of England’s Environmental Working Group, Mission and Public Affairs, Cathedrals and Church Buildings along with Caring for God’s acre and The Charter for Trees, Woods and People.
A second conference will be held at St John’s Church Waterloo on 2 November. It is free to those involved in the care of churchyard trees. To register: www.conservationfoundation.co.uk/churchyardtrees