Long revered as symbols of life, the significance of trees to life on earth becomes even stronger when considering climate change. Trees control the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, absorbing carbon and using it for growth. They are ten to twenty times more efficient at removing carbon from the air than crops or grassland.
Tragically, deforestation has reached crisis proportions. Worldwide, an area the size of Belgium has been destroyed each year in recent decades, ten times as many trees are cut down as replanted.
Greenpeace - Canonbury Villas, Islington, London, N1 2PN. Tel: 0207 8658100
The United Kingdom is the least wooded country in Europe. Just over 2% of the land area in England is covered by ancient woodland. Nearly half of the what remained of the broadleaf woodland in the 1930's has been lost and destruction continues. Yet if every person were to plant a tree, we could have 56 million trees added to the landscape in just one year. Backed by industry, local and national government, reforestation could change the nature of our urban and rural landscape, reducing global warming and creating a more pleasant environment and making us aware of the importance of the remaining woodland.
The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago. The second best time is now.
An individual tree can create a place with beauty, atmosphere and historical association. Historically, groves of trees were often created for meeting under. Thousands of tree varieties exist. For example, 6,000 varieties of apple are recorded in the National Apple Register of the United Kingdom, yet commercial growing of apples has standardised this number down to just nine. 60% of British apple orchards have been destroyed in the past 30 years.
Common Ground - Gold Hill House, 21 High Street, Shaftesbury, Dorset,
SP7 8JE. Tel: 01747 850820. www.commonground.org.uk
1. Weddings, births, birthdays, deaths, a life time of generosity
Many ancient traditions include the planting of trees in honour of individuals. The Essenes for example required fathers to plant a fruit tree on every birthday for each son, and on the twenty-first birthday to give the youth the twenty-one fruit trees together with the land on which they grew. Not only did these trees provide for the family, each person grew to understand the link between food, soil and nature.
Why not plant a tree/s for your child each year, so that they grow with them. Give trees and plants as wedding and party gifts.
Celebrate and remember a person's life with a tree, plant a tree in your garden, or near your home. Donate and encourage other to buy and plant trees. The Family Tree Scheme is an excellent way to do this.
Family Tree Scheme & International Tree Foundation - Sandy Lane,
Crawley Down, W. Sussex. RH10 4NS. Tel: 01342 712536. www.internationaltreefoundation.org
2. Plant a hedgerow and grow trees
Over 600 plant species, 1,500 insects, 65 birds and 20 mammals have been recorded at some time living or feeding in hedgerows. Not only are hedges a valuable wildlife habitat they absorb carbon dioxide. Collect seeds - from your own area to ensure the trees and hedges are well suited to local conditions - and establish a nursery (small or large). You can plant trees in you own garden, donate them to community projects, give them to friends or neighbours or pass them on to your local parks departments.
Growing blackberries, fruit bushes and introducing wild food helps us to stay in tune with season's differences.
Strategically planted trees can provide a windbreak, saving on energy consumption by sheltering cold aspects of your home. Similarly, they can be used to provide shade if a part of the building gets too hot. Remember, to check where drains are located as root systems can damage drains and cause subsidence to buildings.
3. Go Wild about Playing Fields
The National Playing Fields Association calculates that at least five playing fields are threatened with development each week). Not only should the sale of these priceless green spaces be opposed, but planting hedges and wildflowers encourages local wildlife and creates opportunities for pupils to learn and experience nature.
Fields in Trust (National Playing Fields Association) -
4. Become a friend of your local park
Many parks and urban open spaces are neglected or under threat of development or council budget cuts. Many parks have associated supporters' organisations to organise community events and promote their role in people's lives. Ask your local council's leisure or parks department for details. (See local phone book for contact details).
5. Form you own neighbourhood or community group to undertake tree-planting schemes
Schools, parks and other public areas, particularly wasteland, can be improved by planting trees. You could approach your local council for advice and co-operation on possible areas for tree planting. It's also a way of letting the council know what your community wants. Check whether there are grants available for community tree planting. Why not see if local businesses will sponsor your tree-planting project? Local tree planting organisations welcome volunteers.
British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) www.btcv.org
Trees for Cities - Prince Consort Lodge, Kennington Park, Kennington Park Place, London, SE11 4AS. Tel: 020 7587 1320. www.treesforcities.org
6. Buy certificated timber (FSC), peat free soil and avoid using moss
If you are buying garden furniture, decking, sheds, etc look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo or re-use timber from your local reclamation yard. Similarly, buy peat-free soil and avoid moss from unsustainable sources.
Forest Stewardship Council- www.fsc.org/
- Friends of the Earth - 26 -28 Underwood Street, London, N1 7JQ.
Tel: 020 7490 15555 www.foe.co.uk
- Plants For A Future - Blagdon Cross, Ashwater, Beaworthy, Devon, EX21 5DF. Tel: 01208 872 963. www.pfaf.org
- Reforesting Scotland - 62-66 Newhaven Road, Edinburgh, Scotland, EH3 5HU. Tel: 0131 554 4321. www.reforestingscotland.gn.apc.org
- Trees for Life - The Park, Findhourn Bay, Forres, Scotland, IV36 3TZ.
Tel: 01309 691292. www.treesforlife.org.uk/
- The Woodland Trust - The Woodland Trust, Autumn Park, Dysart Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire, NG31 6LL. Tel: 01476 581111 - www.woodland-trust.org.uk
- The National Forest - Enterprise Glade, Bath Yard, Moira, Swadlincote, Derbyshire DE12 6BA Tel: 01283 551211 - www.nationalforest.org
- Open Spaces Society - 25a Bell Street, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG9 2BV. Tel: 01491 573535 - www.oss.org.uk
- ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) - Somerford Court,
Somerford Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 1TW. Tel: 01285 653477 - www.acre.org.uk
Briefing funded by the Norfolk Independent Waste Trust and Cobb Charity
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