Eleven ideas to show your love for trees
I’ve loved trees for as long as I can remember.
When I was wee, I often made dens in trees, took crayon rubbings, hid in them or climbed up them. While at university I went off to the Amazon rain forest to do some conservation work. And nowadays I find that woodlands make one of the best playgrounds for my own two children.
The deafening roar of the Peruvian jungle and the gentle song of a Scottish woodland are entirely different experiences. But to me the effect is the same – I feel an instant sense of calm when I’m beneath a canopy of green.
It makes sense. Being in nature has been proven to reduce stress and improve mental well-being.
What’s not to love?
Trees do a multitude of jobs for us – clean our air, store carbon, reduce flooding, create shelter, protect soil structure and provide homes for wildlife. They even reduce urban crime rates. There are more, but chances are you know and experience these already.
Let’s just say without them we’re in a bit of bother. Despite this, since the start of human civilisation we’ve cleared 46% of tree cover globally.
In Scotland our current level of tree cover is just over 18%, which is higher than the rest of the UK, but far lower than much of Europe. But we are progressing in the right direction. Back in the early 1900’s our tree cover was only 5%. Since then, many lessons have been learned. The Scottish Government’s target is to reach 21% woodland cover by 2032, by growing a sensible mix of native species and supporting sustainable timber production.
11 things you can do to show your love for our trees
So, what can you do to care for our woodlands? The answer is lots. And when it comes to climate stuff, that’s always a welcome answer to hear.
1. Find a local event where you can support tree planting or maintenance
Eventbrite is a great place to take a look. My son and I recently went along to a free organised tree planting event in Dollar. There are often events within Fife too, or Edinburgh and the Lothians depending on where is easy for you.
2. Get your school or community group involved
This is a great way to influence a bigger impact and get others involved. Find guidance and request a free tree pack for your community group or school from the Woodland Trust.
3. Plant a tree in your own garden
If you have limited space or you rent your property, there are small varieties that can be grown in pots, such as Japanese Acers which have gorgeous autumn colour. Or, if you have a larger patch of ground, consider growing native varieties such as birch, alder, oak, ash, hazel, rowan, aspen, hawthorn, holly, juniper, elder and wild cherry. Think about the space you have and the size the tree will grow to when mature, so that it doesn’t affect any properties or underground pipes etc. Check this handy guide from RHS to learn more about planting trees.
4. Grow trees from seed
Buying established trees can be expensive business. So, if you have some patience, this can be a lovely way to grow some trees that you can either plant yourself or gift to others.
5. Become a tree warden to stand up for trees in Fife
If you have a couple of hours to spare per month and care about our trees, Climate Action Fife are looking for volunteer Tree Wardens. It might just be the opportunity for you.
6. Find out if your employer supports volunteering events
I’m fortunate enough to work for an employer that gives each of us three paid volunteer days per year. They also offer a calendar of organised tree planting and conservation events with TCV Scotland. This has given me the opportunity to plant hundreds of trees. If your employer doesn’t offer this, perhaps TCV can help to set something up.
7. Encourage a love of trees in others
For me, that’s through my children. I take mine for walks in the woods, learning to identify different types of trees, seeds and leaves. We also like to grow things from seed.
8. Donate money to fund projects that plant and care for trees
There are lots to choose from and all would value any donation you can make. Here are some options out there:
9. Broaden your knowledge
Simply by knowing more, you are able to advocate for our woodlands in the future. The Scottish Government’s Forestry Strategy has lots of information about the history of our woodlands and the strategy for their future.
10. Embrace a once-in-a-lifetime adventure
As I mentioned, when I was nineteen, I traveled to Peru to take part in a whole host of conservation activities that eventually resulted in the area of rain forest we were working in achieving protected status.
Apart from being worthwhile, it was a life-changing experience. I got to live deep in the jungle for two months, far from civilisation with no internet or phone connection. Electricity was limited to only two hours a day and no hot water. It was beautiful, challenging and I made fantastic friendships.
11. Challenge organisations and hold them to account
If you see something you’re not comfortable with, speak up. You can make a difference. That can be anything as simple as writing a letter. Recently my son and I saw some trees being felled near our home. We tied a pleading note and some chocolate eggs to our favourite tree. That tree was spared from destruction.
A small victory, but still a victory, and one we celebrated by munching on some more chocolate eggs.
So that’s it – some simple ways to show your love for trees and something for everyone. What small victories could you be celebrating in the future (chocolate optional)?
Audrey Wilson, Media Volunteer|