Trees are one of our biggest hopes in the environment challenges we see around us: climate change, flooding, degraded soil…it is encouraging to know that planting trees can make a difference in all these areas.
Why is tree planting so important?
Trees help to keep topsoil in place and put important nutrients back into the ground. Their roots stabilise the land, preventing soil from being washed away during heavy rain and reducing the risk of flooding.
Trees produce oxygen and absorb CO2 and other harmful gases out of the atmosphere, and they provide vital habitat for birds, insects and animals.
Deforestation means that both humans and animals are at higher risk of the negative impacts of climate change.
Who is getting involved in tree planting?
Everyone! Some organisations now specialise in tree planting so why not start by looking for a charity that is already well established. Tree Nation is one organisation working to increase tree planting around the world, giving individuals and companies the opportunity to plant, or gift a tree on a one off or regular basis. Trinidal Bamboo are proud to be partners with Tree Nation and to help support the amazing work they do.
If you want to plant trees locally, there may be an opportunity to join a volunteer working party – a great way to learn new skills, meet other people interested in tree planting and all the equipment and expertise will be provided.
Landowners such as farmers, schools, hospitals and businesses may also be eligible for grants to provide free trees, if they designate a part of their land for tree planting, so everyone can benefit from joining the movement.
The right tree in the right place for the right reason
It is important that the right tree is planted in the right place, which is why it makes sense to work with established charities or take advice before starting a new project. Time of planting is also important – plant trees when the seedling is dormant (in the UK this is usually mid-November – early March)
Mistakes to avoid:
- Planting trees on important wildlife habitat such as heath, moorland or grassland rich in wildflowers – trees could shade out other species and reduce wildlife
- Planting trees on wetlands which already store carbon and risk being dried out by tree planting
- Planting large areas of one type of tree (having a mixture of species means woodlands are more resistant to disease)
- Planting non-native trees
Planting trees is fun and satisfying but for the trees to grow and flourish, aftercare is critical. This may involve
- Protecting the trees against animals (e.g. deer), by using tree guards – a tube or mesh around the young sapling and fencing
- Suppressing weeds
In the UK, there is support available for people to set up a community orchard. These are places for people to come together, to plant local varieties of fruit trees among grass and wildflowers and to enjoy the space for public events such as Apple Day!
Community orchards provide an educational resource for schools and an opportunity for community members to learn new skills – fencing, composting or mowing as well as jam making or juicing when the fruit is ready.
Trees planted in community orchards provide a “green lung” in otherwise built-up residential areas and play an important part in improving mental health as well as benefiting the environment.
Despite all the challenges of climate change, it is good to know there is something we can do to make a difference. Planting a tree is planting hope for the future – for cleaner air, richer soil and protected habitats. It is time for all of us to get planting…