The importance of trees

The benefit of trees for farms and everywhere

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When is the second best time? Today. ~ Chinese Proverb

13942506_1111418662227684_221703025_nTrees wherever they are make people calmer and studies have shown that when there are trees in towns and cities there is less crime, especially violent crime.

Having said that it is a fact though, despite the findings of the studies, that there is a great deal of antisocial behavior, however, going on in parks and open spaces, definitely in the UK.

Farmers seem to have, in recent times, completely ignored trees and especially the benefits of trees. However, a lot of farmers are planting trees now as that wood is needed to fuel environmentally friendly sources of power which is great but still farmers, in general, see trees around the farm and the farmland as causing problems, such as creating too much shade on field margins.

If that is the case why not leave a margin for the wildlife instead of complaining about the shade.

Politicians, and especially not the unfortunately reelected Tory politicians, don't think about trees at all and do not understand such things as ancient woodlands. They seriously believe that, if an ancient woodland is “in the way of development, this ancient biosphere can simply be relocated or a newly planted woodland take its place.

Ancient woodland does not mean a wild wood that has never been toughed by the hand of man. It means it is an area that has been a woodland, worked by man, for at least 400 years, and has become, in that time, a unique ecosystem.

Recently one of those politicians stated that there is no tree older than 200 years in the whole of the British Isles and thus this term cannot apply to any woodland in Britain.

That statement is wrong already in more than one point and the first one being that there are trees in the British countryside, as well as in parks and other places that far exceed the 200 year mark and secondly they do not understand, or should we say do not want to understand, the term “ancient woodland”.

Politicians across the width and breadth of this country, and not this country alone, must take more notice of trees and especially the benefits that come from trees.

If a proper value, in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, would be placed upon our woods and our trees the powers-that-be but should not be might actually understand the importance and the benefits of trees. But the understanding must come about in other ways too. And, in addition to that, also many so-called environmentalists have to come to understand that our woods must be managed and cannot be left “to Nature”.

As said earlier, there have actually been studies conducted that concluded that there is less crime where there are trees and in addition to that we need trees for the production of oxygen and the absorption of carbon dioxide but also as a raw material and not just for biomass, firewood and charcoal.

Like with food, I know, there are some politicians – quite a large number in fact – who say quite openly that we do not need to grow any of that at home as we can get all we need from abroad. It is not just shortsighted, it is stupid in the extreme.

Britain was once an island of trees and for thousands of years we have managed our woods by coppicing and we have managed them well. Today, however, Britain has some of the lowest amount of tree cover of all the EU member countries and that is more that disconcerting.

But wood or timber or lumber, what ever you want to call it, is only part of the story of trees, and so is the fact that where there are trees there is less crime, for instance. There is also the fact that trees absorb carbon dioxide, or you could say they breathe in carbon, and exhale oxygen. And that is, probably the greatest gift that they give us. That, and wood, the most versatile raw material. But the benefits of trees do not end there and an entire book could be, nay should be, written about all of them. No, don't worry, I am not about to do that right here and now. In fact, I shall close here now by saying “we need more trees”.

© 2016

Photo credit: Katjusha Kozubek