Wirral Initiative on Trees (WIT) officially began in March 2017 with an initial meeting of representatives from Conservation Areas Wirral, Wirral Tree Wardens, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Urban Beekeepers Association. All concerned by the state of tree care across Wirral and the growing risks to trees hedgerows and woodlands from poor management, disease, development and climate change.
As an "umbrella group" of concerned local organisations we aimed to combine our shared expertise, local knowledge and volunteer base and present a united voice on these issues.
At our initial meeting we identified the most pressing points as the need for a Tree Strategy for Wirral and an itree eco project to map and evaluate Wirral's trees.
We attended the BBC Radio 4 "Gardeners Question Time" day at Ness Gardens and were overwhelmed by the support for the idea shown by visitors, panellists and other exhibitors alike.
We added several organisations to the group and formed a core working group of representatives, adding Wirral Park's Forum to the original founders. The working group report progress to all member organisations on a regular basis.
Over 2018, Members of the WIT Working Group had placed ‘trees’ on the agenda in discussions through the Parks Partnership and Performance Board initially centring around tree risk management and tree felling in parks. Following talks with Council Officers and Councillors we began writing the discussion document "Why we need a charter in Wirral for trees, hedgerows and woodlands"
Writing our request for a charter/strategy and gathering together evidence and support from all the groups in Wirral Tree Initiative, took several months, but in May 2019, we were invited by Wirral Borough Council to help them write and develop a full Tree Strategy for Wirral.
Working with Council Officers and with key advice and input from the Tree Council we developed not only the Strategy but an exemplar of good practice in strategy planning and community involvement to be replicated in other Council areas.
The itree project has had to take a back seat whilst the Strategy has been taking so much time but we've delineated the terms of the survey and hope to start it next year.