Seeing the wood for the trees
Gerard Farnham, chairman of Jersey Trees for Life, explains why trees are so important in town and country
WITH the Island’s increasing population causing our urban environment to expand, nature is usually the first and worst casualty.
Thankfully we are approaching a time when entire generations are growing up recognising that nature is actually important, rather than it being a minority interest.
There is now much talk about the genuine importance of trees in towns and cities. This talk is often accompanied by contentious headlines, but the bottom line is that trees in towns improve our health and our happiness, and they provide homes and food for many animal species, including birds and insects, that further improve the world in which we live.
That can be read as a very selfish and self-interested statement, and a sad indictment of how we value nature but, in this quantified world, that is often, sadly, the most compelling argument for protecting trees.
The monetary value of the lifetime of a tree can be measured in the tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds for the benefits it provides in producing oxygen and reducing air pollution, thus improving our health and lowering medical costs.
It can also be measured by the value in controlling water during storms and floods (protecting your property).
They also bring subconscious primal comfort to our mental health and wellbeing by providing soothing natural colours, smells, sounds and, with them, a connection with nature – our true natural habitat in this noisy world.
Since 1937 at Trees For Life – or Men of the Trees as it was then named – we have been, and still are, working to improve many aspects of the tree population around us through rural planting, improving and increasing the amount of woodland, and fostering a better understanding and acceptance of living with trees in urban environments, finding ways we can involve the community in supporting this mainstay of our natural environment.
We work with many interested groups, including other nature organisations and welcome volunteers from corporate sponsors, who enjoy the real benefit of doing something that will grow with us all and contribute to the future.
For example Whitmill Trust have two volunteer days in March 2019 where staff will be supporting us during our planting season.
We also conduct our own environmental programmes such as the Jersey Hedgerow Campaign, where we plant thousands of hedging plants and trees every winter, and we manage what is becoming a valued and nationally important collection of trees at Val de la Mare Arboretum.
So we fight for trees. Unfortunately there is a long way to go but, every day, we experience something new and fascinating and more relevant that we want to share.
Looking at the progress that has been made in the care and interest in nature, you just never ever stop learning.
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