We’re delighted to welcome back the tree planting season this year, which will hopefully get people active and outdoors this winter! If, like us, you think trees are amazing then this week is a chance to celebrate everything they do for us.
What is National Tree Week?
National Tree Week is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree planting season (November to March each year). The Tree Council first established National Tree Week in 1975 in response to the national replanting required after the outbreak of Dutch Elm disease.
Fast forward to 2020 and the Tree Council now calls on its member organisations, which include local authorities, community groups, 200 schools and over 6,000 volunteers to organise events and inspire others to get their hands dirty and plant trees together. Or at least that’s what would have been happening, although this year looks slightly different with lockdown measures still in place for much of National Tree Week. However, we can still get out there planting, either in our gardens within our support bubbles. Or at the Tree Planting events that have been safely organised by the Tree Council and supporting organisations to make sure we can all get involved whilst adhering to local, regional and national guidelines. Read on further to find out why Trees deservedly have a whole week to be celebrated!
Why are tree’s important?
Trees are essential for life. As the biggest plants on the planet, they provide us with oxygen and shelter as well as storing carbon, stabilising the soil and providing food and habitats for the world’s wildlife. On top of all that they’re the longest living species on earth which, through studying them, gives us insight and links between the past and present.
National Tree Week helps highlight all these benefits whilst promoting the need to preserve, protect and sustainably manage our nations woodlands as well as trees in urban settings such as parks and community gardens. These urban areas look to benefit hugely from more trees being planted, whether it be through reducing winds speeds and noise pollution in cities. Or through casting shade and the cooling effect they can have to the air as they lose moisture and reflect heat upwards from their leaves.
Trees help fight climate change
Not only do Trees produce oxygen which helps create the atmosphere we live in and quite literally the air that we breathe. They are also powerful natural solutions to tackle climate change. Trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide by taking it out of the atmosphere and storing it inside them as they grow. This means they can store carbon dioxide for a very long time which helps slow down global temperature rise.
Trees can also help to reduce pollution, flood risk and soil erosion. Not only do trees help prevent the destruction of habitats but are vital for creating new habitats and ecosystems for a multitude of insects and wild animals.
Trees help provide for wildlife
One of the most thriving landscapes for wildlife is Woodlands. The trees that make up our wooded areas provide homes for thousands of species including some of our most loved animals and beneficial insects. These homes, or habitats are crucial for the ongoing conservation of the birds and small mammals that live amongst the trees.
Birds, both large and small, will nest in the canopies of trees and benefit from eating some of the other organisms, like insects, that have been provided a habitat by the tree. Many small mammals will burrow into the root system to make a home that offers both protection and sustenance. Bats will also often be found roosting in the cavities that can be found on an ancient tree.
Nowhere else are these benefits to wildlife more obvious than the mighty Oak. A stalwart reminder of why trees are so important to this country that also happens to be one of the UK’s best-known species. Oaks have been found to support hundreds of different ecosystems, many of which are perfect for insects, that in turn become a source of food to many of the small mammals and birds mentioned above.
Trees help improve our health
Whether it’s filtering the air from all those nasty polluting particles, lowering our stress levels with a calming walk through the woods or providing a natural medicine to cure us. There’s an abundance of health benefits that we receive from the trees around us.
It is generally agreed that on average a single broad-leaf tree will absorb in the region of 1 tonne of carbon dioxide in its full life-time. When this is taken into consideration with the fact that a trees canopy also acts as a physical filter, trapping dust and providing shade from the sun and reducing noise it’s easy to see that they help both the environment and those who live within it.
It is well documented that the woodlands and parks around the UK provide spaces for us to relax and exercise, improving both our mental and physical health. So much so that research has been carried out and has found that your heart rate slows, blood pressure drops and your stress levels come down within minutes of being surrounded by trees!
How to get involved
You can still get involved and do your bit for National Tree Week this year even though we can’t go out in our thousands to plant trees! The Tree Councils volunteer tree wardens are still holding safe and responsible tree planting events across the country to celebrate National Tree Week. Check their website here to view their calendar and find out what’s happening in your local area.
If there’s no events in your area, don’t worry there are plenty of other ways you can help make our beautiful country greener! The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) is a good place to start if you’d like to volunteer or donate towards their ‘I Dig Trees’ campaign that saw over 1 million trees planted during the planting season last year. The Woodland Trust is a great source of information on all things trees in the UK and has a wide range of advice on planting trees that can be found here.
If going outside during this period isn’t possible for you, there’s still plenty you can do to support our trees and environment. Have a look online at all the different energy providers offering affordable green energy, some of these have taken the steps to plant trees to offset carbon as well as using 100% renewable energy sources. As you’re almost certainly viewing this blog on a computer or phone, next time you search for anything online, use the search engine Ecosia. They plant a tree every time you search for anything online with them!
Alternatively, you can do your bit by helping to build upon the habitats available for wildlife in your gardens. Adding a Wildlife World bird nest box or roosting pocket to your garden will offer an additional safe place for birds to nest and shelter in, regardless of whether you have trees in your garden or not. Likewise, a well-hidden hedgehog home can be a lifesaver to a hedgehog and a great alternative to the unfortunately sparse woodland floors now available to them.