There are currently many issues for trees in the British Isles. The UK’s forest cover is currently at a disconcertingly low 12% compared to Spain’s 36% and well below the average for other European countries at the same latitude.
Thanks to Napoleon’s incentive to plant oak forests for future ship-building, France today is lucky to enjoy this life-sustaining investment in its national parks. There is an old saying “The best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago, the second best time is now”.
Suzi Martineau, organiser of The Tree Conference – taking place in Glastonbury on Saturday 4th November – shares six top ways for planting trees and keeping them in the ground.
1. Wildlife Corridors: Identifying areas where private gardens, wildlife reserves and farming land can all link up can be done by viewing the Wildlife Trust’s ‘Local Living Wildlife’ maps. Working with your local town or parish council to identify such corridors and planting to enhance and broaden them can be done via the fabulous Local Neighbourhood Plans. Councils and NGOs like the Woodland Trust and the Friends of the Earth Pollinator Corridors welcome active constituents to support their work and provide information on how to do it via their websites.
2. Supporting UK Organisations’ Planting Strategies: Numerous UK environmental groups are already undertaking large-scale planting, such as the Woodland Trust, The Forestry Commission, and the Glastonbury Conservation Society. Others like the RSPB, Wildlife Trust, FWAG and Friends of the Earth plant to create wildlife habitats. England’s Community Forests is the country’s biggest environmental regeneration initiative. Most of these organisations are run on a charitable basis so you can contribute financially or go along to tree planting days.
3. Create your own Small Holding or Local Orchards: Planting fruit and nut trees to create local orchards provides a vital source of food resilience in communities. There are examples of permaculture, forest gardens and ‘planting by the moon’ (biodynamics) that completely reduce the need for harmful pesticides and fertilisers. In many local communities, people are already creating amazing small holdings, city farms and wine, cereal and vegetable growing projects successfully using these principals. (More info: The Soil Association and Permaculture Association).
4. Support Agroforestry, Farming, the Forestry Sector & New Woodland Creation Grants: The UK government has recognised the need to increase forest cover to sequester C02 and has committed to planting 11 million trees in the next two years. DEFRA is working with the Agroforestry Group to support farmland productivity and preserve soil sub-structure, preventing fertiliser run-off of into waterways. The Woodland Trust website shares useful short films about how farmers can adopt these techniques. If you live in a rural community, talk to people who work the land about ways that are working successfully. And if you can plant your own woodland, new grants, practical support and saplings are provided by Natural England, the Forestry Commission and The Woodland Trust.
5. Understanding the Tropics and Carbon Sequestration: Significant focus is being given to the equatorial belt where trees planted sequester more carbon and desertification depletes communities. Projects by global reforestation charity TreeSisters and others also support local communities to reduce soil degradation, desertification, river and water loss and enable planting to create food sources, agricultural resilience and enhance community knowledge. Donating monthly contributes to the air you breathe. Visiting one could change your life.
6. Planting along Waterways and on behalf of the Oceans: Reforestation on the land supports the oceans because carbon sequestered by oceans is creating an acidification that hugely threatens worldwide fish stocks. And if you want healthy fish stocks, forests need access to waterways. For example, Willow varieties along streams and rivers release water soluble salicylic acid into waterways and forest floor mulch (running off into rivers) which feed plankton out at sea. Explore the pathways from trees to water. Think what can be done locally to you.
Featuring world class speakers, The Tree Conference in Glastonbury on Saturday 4 November (to be broadcast via Livestream to a global audience), will be a networking event for people who love trees, inviting citizen-led initiatives for reforestation. The event will also highlight the vital role of trees for people and planetary wellbeing. Further info & bookings: www.theretreeconference.com
Photo: Lever du soleil KIP LOADES