Nature with Nik Mitchell: National Tree Week

National Tree Week

Thanet nature expert Nik Mitchell, from Minster, runs the Wildlife Conservation in Thanet page on facebook:

National Tree Week is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree planting season (November to March each year). This year, it’s taking place on November 28–  December 6.

National Tree Week is a great chance for communities to do something positive for their local treescape however, this year it’s mostly been put on hold due to lockdown restrictions.

Trees are not just good to look at. I’d like to go on to tell you how important they are, and in particular, the benefits of street trees.

Trees contribute to our environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, conserving water, preserving soil and supporting wildlife. Trees also lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide. Alongside this, they help to combat the urban heat island effects.

Sadly, Thanet really lacks in tree cover. With a tree cover of around only 4% it is amongst the lowest in the whole country, even London is 29%. It very important to try to save as many of our trees as possible, especially mature trees. Many people do fight for our trees (check out Thanet Trees on Facebook).

Street trees are a beautiful and much needed addition to any street. Unfortunately, in more recent years, there has been a huge reduction in our beloved street trees. Street trees are often cut down and not replaced, many new developers do not consider the need to plant trees and on the rare occasion street trees have been planted locally, many have died due to lack of after care.

Street trees have many benefits:

  • They create more pleasant walking environments, bringing about increased pride in an area
  • Businesses on a tree-scaped street show 12% higher income
  • They absorb the first 30% of rainfall through their leaves, reducing flooding & allowing evaporation back into the atmosphere
  • They reduce harm from traffic exhaust pipes because street trees absorb 9 times more pollutants than more distant trees
  • In the summer they offer vital shade for us & parked cars, prolonging the life of pavements and roads by up to 60% by reducing daily expansion & contraction cycles
  • Street trees can be used to naturally frame roads, providing a more defined edge. This can help motorists to guide their movement and assess their speed which in-turn also creates safer footpaths.

Across the UK, the presence of trees in cities, towns and rural landscapes, continues to add value to our lives every day. If you can this winter why not plant yourself a tree or give a tree as a gift. Love them and live with as many as possible.