In the mid 70’s, the Tree Council was established with government backing as the umbrella body for all organisations involved in tree planting. After the outbreak of Dutch Elm Disease (named after the nationality of the two folks that identified it, not the country of origin) and the consequential loss of trees, the Tree Council set up National Tree Week, to encourage communities to do something positive for their ‘local treescape’. It has become an annual tradition that is as important now as it ever has been. This week across our Forest schools, we have been planting trees donated to us by the Woodland Trust, and many have been given to our attendees to take home with them to plant. It’s been a fantastic learning experience that won’t be forgotten.
Needless to say, I love a good tree. A few years ago, I had a lovely chat with one of our Directors Tom Lowday about our favourite trees (yes…..that’s right…. we still are able to live a rock n roll lifestyle) in which we were not simply banging on about tree species and Latin names (as the other Director Shev does) but remembering specific trees that mean something to us. Trees are not just woven into the fabric of the land and the folk tales of the past, but are characters in our own individual stories. When I was a kid, allowed out after teatime on a summers evening, I’d meet my mates at the ‘Oak Seat’ down at Tincombe Field. It still stands to this day, a perfect little perch aloft a beautifully gnarled old oak that may well also have seen people enjoy its leafy cushions several hundred years ago. It was that same tree that I sat in to do school work when I was studying towards GCSE and A-level exams. It was also the location of my first Tequila Slammer, where my mate Craig kept dropping the quenching Lemon from the tree each time it was passed. It’s where I walk the dog when I visit my home town, and now enjoy seeing my kids roaming the slope beneath its branches and canopy. It’s also a poignant reminder of what can be lost if we don’t think and act carefully. My favourite Oak over the years has been encroached upon by development, and the awesome view once found from within its arms, now consists mostly of developed land. The majority of its neighbours have been felled and forgotten. It still stands proud however, and in the surrounding fields, community projects have recently been replanting for future generations to enjoy. That is just the story of my tree, and I suspect that when we think about it, we all have ‘A Tree’.
I don’t think there is a need to explain the importance of trees in this blog. We all know it. Similarly, I think with the recent raising of awareness in the impact of plastic upon our environment. We all know it. It seems now more than ever, that simply knowing about something is not enough. We need to act upon what we know for the future of ourselves and the wildlife we share our space with.
Can you get involved? Definitely.
For more information on the successes in replanting, and to see what you can do now, and in the future, visit these following links.
Author: Nick Murphy, Manager at Exmouth Forest School site, The Outdoors Group