Our Story

The group’s roots lay in local opposition to a demand from AXA Insurance that 5 mature oak trees in much-loved ancient woodland, Queen’s Wood, be felled in order to protect a neighbouring property from subsidence. This led to a massive public outcry, coming as it did when the pandemic led people to appreciate their green open spaces more than ever. That one local campaign branched out to become Community Tree Protectors and subsequently blossomed into SHIFT

Community Tree Protectors

It soon became apparent to the Community Tree Protectors that the Queen’s Wood oaks were just one example of a massive and ongoing felling of trees by insurance companies and developers, due to the competitive financial system in which they operate. Despite the worldwide declaration of a Climate Crisis, trees are still not valued enough to be protected by law, hence why our acronym SHIFT is so apposite.

Change Is Needed

To save us from climate catastrophe, a fundamental change is needed in the way we see our world; our campaign will work towards effecting this change in every way we can. This website provides the tools for individuals to save local trees, and is part of our campaign to bring about legislative change at national and international levels.

We want to see a SHIFT in attitudes – away from the obsessive planting of new saplings and towards the retention of our existing mature trees.


We are the people behind SHIFT

  • Glenys E Law: Chair of CREOS (Crouch End Open Space), founder member of SHIFT.
  • Jeffrey G Duckett: Emeritus professor of Botany at QMUL, research associate at the Natural History museum
  • Jonathan Popper: Tree officer for Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association
  • Robin Howorth: Chartered Arboriculturist
  • Julian Glaser (Treasurer): Barnet-resident activist, retired database analyst
  • Louise Lewis:  Former Haringey tree warden, trees lead for Highgate Neighbourhood Forum since 1990.
  • Marcus Carambola: teacher, musician and activist, with a strong focus on the climate and ecological emergency
  • Angela Gokani Brasier (Social media): I ❤ Trees
  • Giovanna Iozzi:  Creative Writing Teacher, passionate about trees, founder of Haringey Tree Protectors
  • Holly Aylett: Research fellow Birkbeck college; UK Coalition for Cultural Diversity
  • Gordon Hutchison: retired development consultant, Stroud Green resident and environmental activist.


This is a national problem and groups to defend urban trees are springing up all over the country. We all support each other in working towards the same aims – saving our existing mature trees, raising awareness of the importance of trees, demonstrating that it is better to save the trees we already have than planting new and vulnerable saplings, striving to bring about changes in legislation, both locally and nationally.


Have you already been involved in a tree-saving campaign? If so, let us know!

If you have expertise in arboriculture, botany, structural engineering, PR, law or comms we would appreciate your help; we always welcome new ideas and team members.

Visit our contact page and say hello. >>

When the heat has passed you forget about the shade of trees

Japanese proverb

“Even trees do not die without a groan”

Henry David Thoreau

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees.”

Wilson Flagg

When the tree falls the shadow flies

Chinese proverb

“I said to the almond tree, ‘Friend, speak to me of God,’ and the almond tree blossomed.”

Nikos Kazantzakis

“A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.”

William Blake

“To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world.  To be poor and have trees is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“The tree which moves some to tears of  joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in their way.”

William Blake

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money

Cree proverb

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools”

John Muir

“The best friend on earth of man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on the earth.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

“To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, to live as a people, we must have trees.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach … the ancient law of life.”

Hermann Hesse

“A tree which has lost its head will never recover it again, and will survive only as a monument of the ignorance and folly of its Tormentor.”

George William Curtis