A head and shoulders photo of Heather Acton taken with grass and trees in the background. Heather is smiling at the camera

Heather Acton, Chair of Trustees

Heather has considerable leadership in local government, working as a Westminster City Councillor between 2010-2022. Within this time, Heather was the Cabinet Member for Sustainability and Parking, Public Protection and Licensing, and most recently Communities and Regeneration (2020-2022), when she also sat on the Climate Change board. Heather organised the first Greener City Action Plan for Westminster, and renewed the Biodiversity Plan.

It was Heather's love of trees that led her to become a current trustee of the Westminster Tree Trust, and a life member of both the Woodland Trust the National Trust.

Encouraging stakeholders, including at the local community level, to communicate and work together, is one of the strengths Heather brings to the Chair role, along with strategic vision, creative thinking, and an ability to manage change, with tact, diplomacy and wisdom.

"It has always been apparent to me that our health depends on the environment being healthy too, and this is even more the case as we face climate change. Trees are a fundamental element for dealing with this and the Heart of England Forest has such a vital role to play, not just at a national level, but internationally and for the planet."

Q&A with Heather

When did you become the Chair of trustees?

May 2024

Why did you choose to give your time and get involved with the charity?

I love trees and believe that they and biodiversity are important for the health of our planet and for humanity. The ambitions of the Heart of England Forest struck a chord with me.

What expertise do you bring to the trustee role?

I have experience in designing, developing, and monitoring international agricultural and environmental investment projects worldwide with the United Nations and other organisations.

Through my more recent role in local government, I have helped to improve environmental sustainability and public health. I have chaired groups of diverse stakeholders to achieve environmental, educational, and community health goals. I am also keen to learn more!

What aspect of the charity’s work interests you the most?

The range of habitats that the charity is developing, supporting, and understanding. Furthering the capacity to identify the benefits that these habitats provide, and sharing that knowledge to be passed on to future generations.

How do you think the Heart of England Forest is making the most difference?

The trees already planted help provide carbon capture, improve biodiversity, and reduce flooding, amongst so many other benefits. The Forest enables people to enjoy outside spaces and learn about the importance of the natural world.

What are the challenges facing the charity over the next 12 months?

National and international policy frameworks – policy changes make it hard for the charity to plan ahead. Climate change, resulting in unpredictable weather patterns and stress for trees.  

What 3 words would you use to describe the work of the Forest?

Uplifting, sustainable, ambitious.



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