One Tree per Child
In Hornsea Community News Issue 19 I made a plea for a massive tree planting campaign. For the younger generations to inherit a planet that is still habitable we need not only to start living sustainably but also to begin REGENERATION. By recovering a healthy portion of the forests that we have destroyed in recent centuries we can regenerate vital ecosystem functions and create conditions where all of life can thrive.
Jim Robbins in the book THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES offers a useful summary of why trees are essential:
“Trees are responsible for half the photosynthesis on land, taking in the energy from sunlight and transforming it to leaves, so that energy is usable by insects and mammals and birds. They are highly evolved water management specialists; a forest is a soft carpet on the landscape that allows a downpour to reach the ground gently, rather than in a torrent, so that it can be absorbed, rather than run off and can recharge ground water. Trees feed oxygen and minerals into the ocean, create rain, render mercury, nitrates, and other toxic wastes in the soil harmless,
gather and neutralize sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon dioxide, and other harmful air pollutants in their tissue, create homes and building materials, offer shade, provide medicine and produce a wide variety of nuts and fruit. They sustain all manner of wildlife, birds, and insects with an array of food and shelter as well. They are the planet’s heat shield, slowing the evaporation of water and cooling the Earth. They generate vast clouds of chemicals that are vital to myriad aspects of the earth’s ecosystems and likely vital to our health and well-being. They are natural reservoirs – as much as a hundred gallons of water can be stored in the crown of a large tree. The water they release is part of a largely unrecognized water cycle.
Even viewed conservatively, trees are worth far more than they cost to plant and maintain. The US Forest Service’s Center for Urban Forest Research found a ten-degree difference between the cool of a shaded park in Tucson and the open Sonoran desert. A tree planted in the right place, the center estimates, reduces the demand for air conditioning and can save 100 kilowatt hours in annual electrical use, about two to eight percent of total use. Strategically planted trees can also shelter homes from wind and in cold weather they can reduce heating fuel costs by 10 to 12 percent. A million strategically planted trees, the centre figures, can save $10 million in energy costs. And trees increase property values, as much as one percent for each mature tree. These savings are offset, somewhat, by the cost of planting and maintaining trees, but on balance, if we had to pay for the services that trees provide, we couldn’t afford them. Because trees offer them in silence and for free, we take them for granted.”
Africa is leading the way, having already restored 1 million hectares of degraded land through agroforestry with huge benefits to the people and with plans to extend this to 100 million hectares. In the UK Bristol has launched the ‘One Tree per Child’ project in which 39,000 trees were planted in the city – one for each of Bristol’s 36,000 school children across 130
primary schools and a few extra for good measure! In theory, with far fewer schools this shouldn’t be too difficult to replicate here. Could Hornsea follow suit and perhaps inspire other towns in the East Riding to lift us off the bottom of the league table for tree cover? As well as making a valuable contribution to reducing carbon emissions we could reduce our susceptibility to flooding, produce much of our own food and fuel, encourage wildlife and make Hornsea and district the most beautiful and inspiring town in East Yorkshire (if it isn’t already!)
Here are some of the ways in which you might contribute:
If you are a pupil, teacher or parent at one of our schools could you persuade your school to participate and perhaps even spearhead the project? If you are a landowner would you be prepared to have some trees planted on your land? If you can think of any spare plots of land could you approach the owners to ask for permission to plant trees on it? Do you have expertise you could offer to advise on suitable trees, planting, maintenance etc? Do you have time and energy to help with planting? Could you provide tree saplings or do you know of anyone who could? Could you apply for funding for trees and tools? On page 21 there is an introduction to Forest gardening as well as news of the Community Orchard. Could you turn all or part of your garden or allotment into a Forest garden or join in with the Orchard?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions please get in touch and help to turn the dream into reality. Let’s give our young people hope for the future. The time for regeneration is now!