In Praise Of Trees

It has been mind-buggeringly hot and humid for most of the last week, breaking records for mind-buggeringly hot heat here in the UK. But now, with heavy rain and gloom and a delicious green light filling the kitchen from the trees and bushes outside in the garden, it not only feels refreshingly cooler but looks it, too.

During this last week, almost the only way I could bear to be outside at all, was sitting on our lawn in the shade of the gorgeous hazel tree that dominates the garden.

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In so many countries, trees are planted to provide shade whether it be for travellers, or for residents in towns and villages or city squares.

They understand the value of the shade the trees provide in hotter climates, but in the UK we, and by that I mean governments and entrepreneurs and business people, we seem to be obsessed with cutting down trees, almost for the sake of it.

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Yet we can no longer pretend we have no idea how vital trees are; for us, for the ecosystem, for the planet. We need them to remove the carbon from the air and to replenish oxygen. They are habitats for huge numbers of wildlife. Their roots help bind and provide stability to the soil, preventing erosion, landslides, and the spread of deserts. Where they exist in sufficiently large numbers the water vapour they give off helps to bring down local temperatures and increase rainfall.

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They are sources of food for animals and for people, and for thousands of years their wood has been used for building dwellings, making furniture and utensils, fencing, tools, boats and wagons, and as a beautiful raw material for artworks.

And they soothe the soul!

Used intelligently and sustainably, they will continue to perform this role for as long as we wish.

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Yet despite all we now know, we continue to cut down trees at a ridiculous rate. In Brazil, we are losing rainforest now the size of three football fields per minute! The rainforest in Indonesia is also being cut down at a rapid rate. The HS2 rail link planned for the UK will cost a stupid amount of money and destroy massive amounts of woodland, just to take a little time off rail journeys that already happen.

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Yet there are many smaller – petty – instances of trees being cut down that amount to official vandalism, no less. I feel particularly strongly that in many towns in the UK it has long been the policy that when trees planted along streets have become larger than the council thinks appropriate, they cut them down but rarely if ever replace them with new, younger, ones.

The call to re-wild areas of the UK is growing, and I feel we should now be devoting as much land as possible to the creation of new woodland, as well as re-planting hedgerows to replace fences, and individual trees in gardens and parks and along roads.

And stop cutting them down!

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47 thoughts on “In Praise Of Trees

  1. Lovely pictures. People round here seem to have a mania for cutting trees down, as if they were weeds taking up Prime ugly-bungalow building space. A neighbour has cut down both the big trees that bottom of my garden, removing all shade, privacy and a popular roosting p!ace for birds. When I asked him why he did it he said he was thinking of putting up a row of sheds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Precisely that. It seems that trees just don’t matter. I suppose the problem for lots of people is, just as you say, they take up valuable profit-making space. I mean, for heaven’s sake, instead of that wretched woodland you could stick a factory or a tranche of bungalows up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said Mick.Time now for Governments to start enforcing orders to save trees or ensure replacement trees are planted. We must negotiate with Brazil and Indonesia to stop the destruction of the rainforest, there must be alternatives. Western Companies must be stopped from leading the destruction without a willingness to create areas of regrowth. Generations to come are going to have great need of these areas.
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been furious over the deforestation in this country for several years … thoughtless cutting down of trees to get at coal or oil to further damage the environment, or to build more factories to spew crud into the atmosphere. But last night when I logged onto facebook and saw a video a friend had posted of cutting down a huge oak tree in her yard, I saw red. I asked if the tree was diseases and that was why they had cut it down, but no … it was “in the way”. 😥

    Liked by 1 person

  4. With you all the way here Mick. Hate to see trees cut down unless more are planted in their place. Perhaps a new law stating that at least two new trees have to be planted when one is cut down, or maybe three. Weather was crazy hot though wasn’t it? Sort of pleased to have the cloud and rain here for a couple of days.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Mick. I just read that Chinese companies are now deforesting Siberia, and currently at a faster rate than Amazonia, over 16m. acres last year alone.
    When I leave my apartment, there are tree-lined streets in one direction, and a treeless expanse of parking lots the other way, and the different in temperature is really amazing on sunny days. Milwaukee isn’t a perfect city, but it’s smart enough to qualify for the “Tree City USA” label from the Arbor Day Foundation, and maintains about 200k trees, so a lot of neighborhoods are great places to walk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a lot to digest. And China likes to inform the world it is serious about tackling the Climate Crisis, although I’m pretty dubious about that anyway.

      It sounds as though Milwaukee have at least the right idea, if there are still a lot of trees on the streets and in parks. Unfortunately, it just needs to be replicated everywhere. A piece I was reading recently in the Guardian suggests that worldwide we need to plant one trillion trees as a matter of urgency, and that’s without cutting down any more.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Around here, we have tens of thousands of acres in the Conservation Reserve Programs (CRP). Some of these programs allow for trees, others are fanatically opposed to them. I swear, if a volunteer scrub tree appears on your CRP land, the feds will send in fighter jets.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is quite simple really, MIck. If we don’t stop cutting down trees, mankind is going to become extinct along with all other creatures. I can’t understand why we keep voting in governments that just don’t get this simple fact.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It would be good if the attitudes in my ‘neighborhood’ (very loosely defined) could become more accepted. From my city’s commitment to saving a majestic oak that stood in the way of a new roadway, to the group known as Trees for Houston helping to replant Galveston’s trees after Hurricane Ike devastated them, activism on behalf of trees is alive and well. Tree-planting volunteers are active in a variety of areas dedicated to new green space, like golf courses transformed into detention and retention ponds.

    The issues are complex, particularly in areas where economic development is linked to deforestation. When I lived in Liberia, slash-and-burn agriculture was the norm; forests were taken down to make room for rice fields. A couple of civil wars slowed progress, but slowly, slowly, new ways of rice farming are being introduced: ways that allow for the reuse of fields rather than the clearing of new land.

    It’s easy to bemoan the wrongs, but doing the right can be just as easy, especially when people join together in local projects that can be seen by others, and inspire them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those local projects are superb, and we need lots more of them! I don’t see governments leading the way any time soon, sadly, and it is going to take local volunteers and activists to both get some momentum going and to really bring the issue to the public’s attention.

      The answer is really both very simple yet very difficult – stop cutting trees down and plant a trillion new ones.

      And yes, finding better ways to use land that has already been cleared is of vital importance.

      Like

  9. I love trees, and the shade they provide on hot summer days. I was very happy to see your gorgeous green photos. It’s hard to understand why your beautiful country would want to eliminate green spaces. I live in a suburban area and yesterday, I went out for a long walk. The sun was intense and bleached the colour out of my parasol. Housing development is great for the economy but people spend so much time in their cars, they don’t miss the trees.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think anyone ever sits down and says ‘I want to eliminate this green space’, it is more a combination of short-sightedness, greed and laziness. Councils on stretched budgets don’t necessarily want to have to spend some of it maintaining and pruning trees in urban areas when it is much easier to remove them altogether. Many people refuse to believe there is a climate crisis. Many more might accept there is a crisis but see other things as more important. And many of those in power are afraid of losing their jobs if they don’t focus on other issues.

      Some, of course, are just greedy and corrupt and will happily destroy anything if it makes them a few more dollars.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Fortunately, there’s a fair number of tree huggers in Portland, so our city canopy is in pretty good shape and majestic old trees can get protected status. On the other hand, historically Oregon did a lot of its business in logging, and there’s still a strong contingent that think jobs are more important than trees (even if automation and power equipment have much reduced the jobs required for logging and sawmills.) I don’t know if there’s a happy medium.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When it comes to balancing jobs and the environment, I think that happy medium is going to become more elusive. I can see a point in the near future when we have to accept that to protect the environment, and by extension ourselves, we have to accept that jobs will have to go, profits will have to take a hit and a number of luxuries we take for granted we will have to do without.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Long time since Joni wrote, “Took all the trees and put ’em in a tree museum / Charged all the people a dollar an’ a half just to see ’em!” Only recently does the message appear to be getting through – only hope it’s not too late!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Have just read an excellent book – ‘Wilding’, by the appropriately named Isabella Tree, about the rewilding of the farm she co-owns – which tries to link the economic case with the environmental one in a (literally) down-to-earth way! Long way to go, but an encouraging start …

        Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s the same in India…trees being cut for bridges, building projects but there’s a lot of awareness now and people are taking it upon themselves to plant trees. It’s terrible to see it being destroyed rapidly in other countries, especially when we are all aware of the aftermath.

    Like

  13. Even though the awareness about trees is growing, the ground realities are different. Humans don’t seem to get out of the psychology of making quick money. They are ready to bear the burnt later. How unfortunate!

    Liked by 1 person

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