Guardians of the Trees

by Jonathan Lloyd - Edgmond Wildlife Group

This may seem like a slightly over dramatic title but perhaps we need to rethink our relationship with trees. I mean, trees ‘breathe’ out oxygen and we breathe it in. That’s pretty handy! Trees lock away carbon, the same carbon that causes climate change and planet overheating. Given that our living world is in a state of climate emergency that’s pretty good to! Trees give more to us that we give to them so perhaps it is time to pay back what we owe them!

Of course, trees feed us in many ways, not only materially (food, wood) but spiritually as well. During lockdown we walked the village and surrounding paths and reconnected with nature. I wonder just how uninteresting the village would be if it wasn’t for the magnificent beech trees at Mrs Beeches (for those who can remember) and the splendid Scots pines at the top end of the village around the church and in our gardens and many others in our village. Hey, and what about that stately oak we can see on our walk down Pond Lane to the Strine.

How many people this year took shelter from a downpour beneath a tree or picnicked in the shade on the playing fields on a warm day? Trees also break up the outline of hard village structures, they blend our homes into the structure of the natural world and make us feel better. Then of course there is the ancient game of conkers, collecting chestnuts from local woods, tree houses and swings. The list of tree value just goes on. Without a substantial number of old trees in the village we wouldn’t get Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Coal Tits or Great Spotted Woodpeckers in on our gardens and  on our bird tables! Without our Holly trees there would be no winter thrushes, redwing and fieldfare!

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Since the start of the pandemic more and more people have moved from the built-up areas into the country and who can blame them. Many new owners tend to have a very sanitised view of gardens. This trait of tidiness was cultivated by the Victorians. Lawn with stripes and borders around the edge. Everything in its place! But those autumn leaves make the lawn look a mess. Those holly leaves get under the children/dogs’ feet. That tree takes out the sun from my new patio. I need parking space for the two cars now! Etc We have all been in in these situations.

We tend to think of our trees as possessions to be disposed of at will and not as service providers. It is distressing that even in the Conservation Area in Edgmond each year the council still gives permission for trees to be felled. Of course, we understand if the tree is dangerous, diseased or rotten and poses potential threat to human life but often the reasons for tree felling are quite ridiculous especially given:

  1. It is a conservation area

  2. We are in a climate emergency.
     

But if a tree needs to be felled, what should we do in the way of compensation? Surely, where possible we should plant another tree and get advice about a sensible species to reposition in the garden. Perhaps a slower growing variety or one that doesn’t grow so tall.

Trees are a gift to us and we must care for them. Our children are taught about the destruction of the Amazonian rain forest and the damage that does to the planet. But felling a tree in your garden is just the same. Putting a road or rail track though through ancient woodland is just the same! What is that expression…..people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!

So, a big thanks to all the tree guardians in and around the village. Thanks to all those people who have planted trees on surrounding farm land and open spaces. Thanks to you in the community, the village residents who have planted trees, or look after and manage the trees in your garden. And, if you haven’t thought about it, well now might be a good time to find a place to plant a tree. But if you haven’t got room in your garden for a tree then why not join Edgmond Wildlife Group on the 13th November when we will be planting 450 trees on Wall Farm.

Note: if do want to join our work party at Wall Farm, then please contact us for details. jslloyd@btinternet.com