Trees are vital to the future of the planet: they capture and store carbon, prevent soil erosion, and promote biodiversity. If we’re going to have any chance of preventing climate breakdown, we need to prioritise the planting and maintaining of trees.
Trees Please supports the target of planting 700 million trees by 2030 and 1.5 billion in the UK by 2050. Leicestershire’s tree cover is only 3%, compared with the national average of 13.5% (which also falls way below the EU average of 35%). As a nation we need to achieve 20% tree cover across the land if we are to make any impact at all in slowing climate change. We’re also committed to conserving mature and ancient trees and woodland.
What difference will it make?
Trees Please aims to drive forward the planting of 100,000 trees in Leicestershire -20,000 each year between 2020 and 2025. We intend to plant trees wherever we can: from local neighbourhoods and public parks, to existing woodlands and countryside.
Protecting Existing Trees
While planting millions of saplings is essential, because younger trees absorb carbon at a faster rate than older trees, it’s also vital that we don’t cut down ancient woodland. Mature trees contain large stores of carbon; when these trees are cut down, the carbon stored within them is released back into the atmosphere (either through biodegradation or combustion).
Additionally, older trees play a vital role in promoting biodiversity. An established oak tree, for example, can sustain between 500 and 2000 different species of animal, bird and insect. The canopies of mature trees also protect the ground underneath from the elements, helping new saplings to flourish.
Trees do a great job in preventing flooding, and in fighting soil erosion – which is a major threat to our ability to produce enough food to feed everyone on the planet. They also provide us with cleaner air, combatting some of the damage done to our health by air pollution.
Influencing City Council and County Council Strategy
Trees Please will participate in Leicester City Council’s Climate Emergency Conversation and equivalent discussions with Leicestershire County Council. We will work with the Councils to implement and also improve their Tree Strategy – particularly regarding their policy of planting one replacement tree for every tree felled, an aim which risks overlooking the unique importance of mature trees.
Rewilding, Wildlife and Education
Trees Please supports projects dedicated to re-wilding and to the conservation and enhancement of wildlife. We also seek to promote our work amongst young people and in local communities, with the aim of involving as many people across Leicestershire as possible in enjoying, valuing and preserving our natural world.
Our first tree planting day
Saturday 30th November was really active and hands-on for the Trees Please people of Leicestershire. 25 adults and 3 children traveled from Leicester to Shipley Country Park in Heanor, Derbyshire, to plant saplings as part of National Tree Planting Day, coordinated by The Woodland Trust. Our group (in two hours) managed to plant 600 saplings: mainly cherry, oak, beech and birch and had a lot of fun trawling through the mud, keeping warm (as the biting Winter air crept over the land) and realising that getting a sapling to be planted upright, in clay soil, with all the air pockets pressed out to prevent water entry and freezing of the root is no easy feat!