Volunteers sought to help record county’s important trees

An appeal has gone out for volunteers to record trees in their communities

A group of trees

A new app which allows people to record the most valuable and important trees in the county has been developed by Leicestershire County Council – and volunteers are now being sought to test it out in the field.

The Mergin app can be used to capture details of ancient trees and those which might benefit from Tree Preservation Orders. All the data collected is then used by the council to build up a record of the county’s important trees to help safeguard them for the future.

Now, an appeal has gone out for volunteers to go out and about in their communities to map and record the trees in the area.

The app will enable the volunteers to record a large amount of data about each individual tree, including location, species, size, condition, age and shape, as well as any potential threats which might put the tree at risk.

Volunteers will need to complete around two hours of training on how to use the app, and will be signed up as Environment Action Volunteers, before being asked to go out and catalogue an initial 10 trees.

The app is being promoted to Leicestershire’s 125 Tree Wardens in a bid to build a clear picture of the county’s trees. Those wardens who come forward to do the training and have permission from their parish to participate can get involved.

All the data gathered in the project will also be shared with the Woodland Trust and the tree officers from each of the county’s seven district councils.

Trees have a vital role to play in keeping our air clean, helping to prevent flooding and providing valuable habitats for local wildlife.

Leicestershire’s trees can provide multiple benefits that improve the quality of life for our citizens and communities. We have identified tree and woodland planting as part of our response to the climate change and biodiversity crises and are working towards helping to plant a tree for every resident, with more than 250,000 planted so far.

This project will help us to map the valuable trees around the county, and the volunteers who sign up to use this new app are helping us to protect these trees for future generations, as well as playing a vital part in helping to make Leicestershire a cleaner, greener place to live, work and visit.

The Mergin app has been developed by the council’s Environment Team with support from the tree team in partnership with geographic information system specialists Lutra Consulting, using data supplied by the Woodland Trust and the council's Tree Preservation Order records.

The Mergin app and associated council training, enables volunteers of the parishes and the County Council to assess trees to see if they are worthy of Tree Preservation Orders or if they meet Ancient Woodland Tree Inventory Criteria.

Tree Preservation Orders can only be made legally by the District or Borough planning authorities, however the app can help to locate trees of this calibre and make people aware of them so that they have greater value to society and are protected. The Ancient Tree Inventory identifies veteran and ancient trees that are important because of the number of species that they host as individual trees at this age, the carbon they sequester and their ability to be resilient to a changing environment.

Anyone who would like to find out more about volunteering to become an Environment Action Volunteer and to help catalogue to county’s trees should email environmentteam@leics.gov.uk


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