I’ve just spent an enjoyable hour lounging in the bath and reading the Autumn edition of ‘Broadleaf‘, the Woodland Trust’s magazine.
Now… get that image of me in the bath out of your head and let me tell you some more!
The Woodland Trust has achieved so much in its short lifespan (established in 1972 by Kenneth Watkins to save woods under threat):
- 1,200 woods now in the Trust’s ownership ranging from urban sites such as Big Wood in Runcorn to internationally important ones such as Ledmore and Migdale in the Scottish Highlands
- 60 Diamond Woods of around 60 acres and hundreds of smaller woods planted this year to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee
- 5,000 hectares acquired in 1996 at Glen Finglas in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park (the Trust’s largest site in the UK)
- 4 million people involved in mass tree-planting projects such as Tree for All and Jubilee Woods
- Provides help to 250 endangered species, including red squirrels and stag beetles which need native woodland as a habitat
- 12, 000 hectares of native woodland created over the last 40 years
- 14,000 UK woods made accessible to all through the Trust’s VisitWoods initiative
- Has provided a target of 4km as the furthest distance that anybody should live from a large wood
- Attempting to double native woodland cover from 4% to at least 8%
- 1,700 volunteers doing a range of tasks from photography to advising on woodland creation
- 100,000 significant trees recorded by hundreds of volunteers on the Ancient Tree Hunt
- 400,000 members and supporters all do their bit (compared to 300 in 1977!)
- 10,000 hectares of ancient woodland planted with non-native tress last century and now restored to its natural state
- 16 million native trees planted on and off the Trust’s land over the last 40 years
- 250 new woods created with local communities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of the Trust’s Woods on your Doorstep project to mark the millennium
Phew… quite an achievement, isn’t it?
I’ve been a huge supporter of the Woodland Trust for many years and believe passionately in their work (I’m a member and have named the Trust as a beneficiary in my Will).
Now, you may be asking, “Why are trees so important?”
The latest ‘Broadleaf’ articles seem to encapsulate why we should ALL be protecting and planting trees because they really are vital to our planet.
Having been born on the West coast of Cumbria (Workington), I know only too well how wet our climate can get. We’ve had a soggy Summer already this year, but nothing like the biblical flood that hit Cockermouth in November of 2009. Water levels reached 2.5 metres as the Rivers Derwent and Cocker burst their banks.
It’s a lovely town and the birthplace of William and Dorothy Wordsworth.
What has this to do with trees?
Well, although it’s a complex issue, trees can help to prevent flooding and can improve water quality. As an example, planting trees along rivers and floodplains can lessen the impact of flooding by slowing down the flow of water. River banks can be strengthened if they contain tree roots (especially Alder) and the build up of vegetation under trees can prevent fertiliser from draining into rivers from adjacent farmland.
The list of tree benefits goes on and on!
Let’s face it, we have too much concrete around which prevents water from being able to escape into the ground. The British Government seems ‘hell bent’ on building thousands more houses over the next few years by removing building regulations and this can only make the situation worse. When will they see the bigger picture and think long term?
Okay, I’ll jump off my soap box and give you some good woodland news as well…
My favourite woodland is Hackfall Wood and, in fact, I’ve recently returned from a fantastic walk around the woods – sunny day, loads of wildlife and a tasty pint on the square at Masham (home to the wonderful Black Sheep Brewery!).
The three locations are linked as they were all created by William and John Aislabie in the 18th century.
The walk covers stunning Yorkshire countryside and is gorgeous at this time of year with its Autumn colours.
Real ale pubs can be found at the end of the walk!
What more could you possibly want?
Find out more at woodlandtrust.org.uk/hackfall where you can also see some great photos of the woods uploaded by visitors.
If you too feel that trees are vital for the health of the planet, consider joining the Woodland Trust and get involved in the many schemes and activities that they run: join the Woodland Trust.
Leave a comment below if you have a strong view about the role of trees and woods, or, if you know of a great woodland walk, share it with our readers!