Trees & Design Action Group: Not Just A London Thing!

Finding influential tree people in any one industry or organisation can be difficult. Finding influential tree people in various disciplines to get around a table at the same time can be like trying to find the Loch Ness Monster or a Sasquatch: we hear about these rare things, but finding them is elusive.

Since its first publication in 2008, however, Trees and Design Action Group (TDAG) has indeed achieved the seemingly impossible. In their “No Trees, No Future” report, TDAG has representation from central and local governments, landscape architects, arboriculturalists, water companies, insurance companies, developers, universities and NGO lobbyists. In 2011, they followed up with another report, “The Canopy,” which is a compendium of solutions to issues that affect tree establishment in the urban realm.

There are not many things that can bring such an array of different professions, disciplines and interests together, but trees do. Whether you hug ’em, cut ’em or work around ’em, trees are either important to you or important enough to be aware of them and their related legislation.

Why a Trees and Design Action Group?

Trees are a critical tool to make our urban environments as healthy, livable, and valuable as possible. Still, studies have shown that in urban areas all over England trees are under threat, particularly from new building development. We can’t continue to develop the way we always have and simply expect that trees will successfully adapt.

TDAG’s work recognizes that trees should be a key part of infrastructure planning and need to be given equal weight and value to grey infrastructure elements. Their reports are comprehensive and persuasive, and their message is clear. With thoughtful planning, design, construction, and management of our urban infrastructure and spaces, trees can provide enormous benefits for generations.

What’s on the horizon?

2012 will be a very busy year for TDAG. Their next publication, “Trees in the Streetscape,” is being released shortly. They also plan to release a related publication, “Trees in the Hard Landscape,” before the end of the year.

The principles of TDAG are becoming established in London, and interest in the same ideas from other big cities in the UK such as Birmingham, Bristol, and Manchester has led to the establishment of smaller, regional TDAGs. In February, the first Southwest TDAG will meet. TDAG’s ideas are making international headway, too. Regions in India have also expressed an interest in the principals set out by TDAG, so the message is spreading worldwide!

If all of the people involved in tree design, construction and maintenance were to adopt TDAG’s recommendations about using trees as a green infrastructure solution, we would have a powerful  force indeed. We could make these principles relevant to what is happening at every street, car park, and development by pushing for quality trees that are fit for purpose and the long term integrated benefits we all know they are capable of.

Martin Weaver is a Product Manager with Geosynthetics.


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