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). This year, it’s taking place from the 28th November to the 6th December and our Forest School students have been marking the occasion by ‘finding their tree’.
How do you feel?
No, we are not talking about if you are happy today, we are looking at really how we feel, the textures, smells and sounds and, what better thing to get a feel of during National Tree week, than the woodland around us. Our Exeter Forest School participants have been looking at how they feel by getting up close to our woodland. On Friday great fun was had by all as in pairs the children worked together to take notice of the gnarls and brush up on their barks. Blindfolded, the first player was led to a tree and given time to explore it using all their senses except their sight. After being led back to the group they removed the blindfold and had to find their tree in the woodland.
Embracing All 5 Senses
They were encouraged to take notice of the textures, the soft mosses on the trunks, the sharp tiny twigs of saplings or the large wide bases of ancient oaks with ravines of bark cascading to the floor. The smells of each tree, distinct from each other. Reaching high to find the first branches or bending low to feel the roots descending into the soil surface. Opening their arms wide to embrace their static friend from a timber hug.
Looking at the Origins
Originally called “Plant a Tree in ‘73” and launched in (obviously) 1973 in response to Dutch Elm Disease, National Tree Week is the UK’s largest tree celebration and gives communities and schools the chance to do something positive for their local area. Many schools hold Tree Dressing days where local children come together to decorate and say thank you to the trees. Most of us notice the trees in spring when their beauty shines out with new leaves and blossom, but they work hard all year round removing emissions from the atmosphere and giving us oxygen to breathe. They protect from flooding, prevent erosion, maintain biodiversity and boost mental wellbeing. Did you know that just one mature oak tree can be home to as many as 500 different species!
Judging from the smiles and cries of excitement on discovering “their tree”, our cohort certainly relished their day amongst the branches and leaf litter. Not everyone can get out to plant a tree but this week can help to encourage all of us to be more aware of the environment around us and how together we can sustain it for future generations.
Playing Our Part
Here at The Outdoors Group we are committed to walking the walk, not just talking the talk and are passionate about tree planting. Over the last decade, we have planted thousands of trees across our Forest School sites in Devon. Last year, we collaborated with The Woodland Trust who sent us a huge delivery of trees which were planted primarily at our sites in Shillingford and Okehampton, to try and help counter the ash dieback some of our trees (particularly at Exeter) were experiencing. We felt that this wasn’t quite enough though and have committed to getting every primary school aged child in Devon to plant a tree over the next few years. This exciting venture, termed fittingly The Tree Project, will be launched next year and we already have some schools on board to be our first partners with this. The importance of trees cannot be stated enough so we hope that you will join in with us celebrating this week, whether that be by getting involved in some tree planting yourself (find out how you can take part here) or simply taking a walk in your local woodlands to appreciate your favourite trees!
Author: Liz Slade, Director Support + Forest School Administrator
Date: Saturday 28th November 2020