The devastation to forests, world-wide this year has drawn a sharp focus in the media and political circles. I do not need to tell you that burning rainforest or smouldering peatlands, releases all the CO2 locked up, back into the atmosphere, but the double whammy, is that it destroys the trees that can sequester CO2. The triple whammy, is that the oxygen output for the planet is reduced because the trees are gone.
The earth has not produced any new measurable ‘green’ growth in the last 20 years. Recent events will reduce the green places even further.
We must love our trees. Without them, nothing survives. The roots bind the soil, the leaves and fruits provide humus and nutrients for other living organisms, both on the tree and in the surrounding ground. They are the providers in the food chain of life on dry land. Mangrove trees provide some support to the ocean, providing nursery grounds for growing fish and preventing land erosion on estuaries. They also provide protection from storm surges.
There are so many things that trees do for us, it seems totally illogical that there are people burning them to clear land for grazing cattle or growing feed crops. Worse, we are increasing, not decreasing our demand for timber, paper and biomass for burning in power stations. This is not sustainable.
Love the Trees
What can we do to help the trees? Well, you and I might feel a bit helpless as we watch the world events, but there are things you can do and it doesn’t need your money.
Download and use the ‘Ecosia’ Browser from Google Play.
Based on the Google Chrome Browser, Ecosia will do lots of the same things, so yes, it will track you. Yes, it will throw customised advertising at you based on your use, and yes, there is some data collection. But, if you use Ecosia for general searching and non private reading, (using your prefered regular browser just for things requiring your secure passwords), you can help to plant lots of trees each time you visit a website. Ecosia uses 80% of its profits (from advertisers) to plant forest. Further, it gives regular updated reports on the planting projects and the browser home page has a tree counter that is constantly ticking up. It has reached nearly 66,000,000 trees and is speeding up, confidently stating that a tree can be planted ever 0.8 seconds on average. I have found Ecosia to be just as effective as Google Chrome for general searches, so I use it a lot.
If you see a tree in distress on your street (the leaves are wilting and the ground is dry), take some water in a bucket (or several) and give it a much needed drink so it can fight off disease. If you have trees on or near your property, go and visit them as much as possible. Examine them, touch them, feed them and love them. They will respond. Trees are aware of you.
I had a boulevard Maple in front of a new house (many, many years ago). It was small and spindly, like all the other new trees in front of every other house. Twelve years on, my tree was the largest in the street. Some had died off completely. The grass surrounding it had been fertilised and watered, but so had many other lawns around the other trees. The difference was that I talked to my tree most days (even in the winter) . I would go and touch its leaves and its trunk and send it love. It was double the size of all the other trees. I had never sprayed it and it did not suffer disease.
If you can, go and gather up some of your neighbourhood’s fallen tree seeds this autumn. Put them into plant pots filled with loamy soil or old potting soil, and protect the pots from freezing over the winter (perhaps somewhere sheltered in your backyard).
The seeds will grow next spring. When they are a few inches high with several leaves, you can take them somewhere in your neighbourhood to plant. Make sure it is a common use, wild area and the seedlings are not likely to be mown down with a lawnmower or dug up.
I have planted 30 tree seedlings this way, this year. It took so little effort to give them a helping hand.
There are forest and wood replant action schemes springing up everywhere and all are looking for volunteers to help. Check out opportunities in your area. Even if you only attend one tree-planting day in a whole year, your contribution is so worthwhile. Britain has opportunities in the https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer-with-us/
I have just visited the Heart of England Forestry Project in Warwickshire. https://www.heartofenglandforest.com
Originally, this was a private purchase of farm land by Felix Dennis, a successful poet and publisher of Oz magazine amongst other things. He began planting trees with the profits of his various ventures. In 2012 he was diagnosed with throat cancer, and died in 2014, leaving his land and his wealth in the hands of a charity.
It is a beautiful project full of all kinds of trees, streams, ponds, wild flowers and small creatures. The volunteers have cleared pathways through thousands of acres of land so that visitors can walk through and admire the forest as it grows up. Hundreds of thousands of trees repopulate this growing forest and improve green spaces for people and animals.
What has been accomplished, is absolutely amazing. There are no paid workers, and raised funds have kept this beautiful place vibrant and loved. To travel through all the miles of the walks takes a whole day (and then some). It renews the soul to visit places like this… Just imagine the results, if there were thousands of projects like this one!
Finally, if you have trees on your property, please don’t cut them down. If they are too big ( I know that no one wants a tree to block out all their window light or fall onto the roof), please consult a tree specialist or your local nursery, about pollarding them to a more sustainable size. Many ancient European trees are pollarded in old towns with narrow streets. The trunks are thick (suggesting great age), but the crowns reduced to make them manageable, fit the small spaces and be kept free from disease. If you watch the expert, perhaps he will teach you how to do it yourself for future years.
I do hope you will join me in loving trees. If you have constructive ideas to add to this post on how we protect our beautiful trees, please add them to the comments. Anything is welcome (pruning tips, best species to plant for CO2 sequestration, best planting distances, watering tips, etc.). And if you have any stories about your own experiences loving plants or trees and the effects, please share them. I would so enjoy reading your love stories, funny stories or thoughts.