'Mighty oaks from little acorns grow'

December 2, 2020 1:00 AM
By Mark Wooding

Beautiful British woodlandSurveys repeatedly show that a significant proportion of the population are concerned about climate change. Many want 'things to change'. Most have bought in to the need to recycle. But then things get tricky. An electric or hybrid car is probably on the 'I'll do that one day' list. Choosing not to buy fruit and vegetables that are transported half-way around the world, that's tricky. Insulating one's home, that looks too expensive. Looking after and wearing clothes for years, well…!

And there is the challenge in tackling climate change. Good intentions exist, but the motivation to change our own lives lags somewhat behind.

It's a sad fact but often 'change' has to be imposed, rather than rely on the individual. Hence phasing out coal as a source of energy; implementing a ban on selling new petrol and diesel cars from 2030; writing higher levels of thermal efficiency in new house builds into law. These are all 'big picture' actions that are aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. Many of these things are welcome, but not all and not by everyone.

But one thing we can look at, and which could help improve everyone's lives, is planting more trees. People love trees; they are lovely to look at; they raise our spirits; they are good for wild animals, birds and insects; they are amazing at capturing CO2; and by and large they look after themselves.

Britain has amongst the lowest levels of wooded countryside in Europe. It is estimated that only 13% of the United Kingdom is woodland, compared with 38% in mainland Europe. Of course there are good reasons for such variations, but wouldn't it be lovely if we could move from 13% to say 20%, or perhaps 26%?

Friends of the Earth have recently published an 'opportunity map'. Working with mapping expert Tim Richards, they've identified areas throughout the United Kingdom which could be suitable for expanding our woodland. If we, and our representatives on District and County Councils, decided to we could begin to create more woodland, improving our environment and lives and doing a bit more to tackle the climate emergency.

If you are interested in which areas near you might be suitable for creating new woodland have a look here:

https://takeclimateaction.uk/woodland-opportunity-mapping-england

Then why not raise it with your local Parish Council (they have a responsibility for the local environment) and ask them to pressurise District and County Council to start a programme (and allocate funds) for planting more trees.

One local Liberal Democrat lead council is 'putting its money where its mouth is'. Teignbridge District Council has committed to planting 4,500 trees.

As they say 'mighty oaks from little acorns grow' and our children's, children's children might just thank us for being so far sighted.


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