We all know we need more trees. It seems that we get daily news on the destruction of forests around the world and the huge impact that this is having on the climate crisis.
As someone who grew up in the country, I feel a great affinity with the outdoors, our wildlife, and how lucky we are to be part of the natural world that surrounds us. But… we all need to do a lot more than just appreciate nature. Exactly what to do can be really difficult to get our heads around, but we can all look at what small (or large) changes we can make (and hope that governments start taking the really big steps).
In January I calculated the carbon generated by our business activities last year. I donate to the Woodland Trust monthly as part of trying to do my bit, but I knew that this wasn’t going to be enough to offset the carbon I had used! I calculated that I would need to plant 60 trees to offset my one flight to Sri Lanka and a few shorter European flights for trade shows. A sobering thought!
So then began the search for someone with land who was happy to have trees planted - not so easy, as most of my friends don’t have space for 60 trees! But after a bit of Facebook posting, my friend Lucy popped up with news that her and her husband had just bought a house on Bodmin Moor. They’d decided that they really wanted to plant trees in the surrounding land to help with biodiversity, and so a plan was hatched!
I got on to the Woodland Trust website, Lucy did research on what trees would cope with the weather on the moor (we have all seen those poor side-blown trees that look like a comb-over in the wind!) and I ended up buying 15 Sessile Oak, 15 Downy Birch, 15 Rowan and 15 Wild Cherry. I was pleasantly surprised at how cheaply they can be bought, if you order over 100, they are about £1.00 each! These cost £39.95 per pack of 15. The trees arrived last week in a box that looked like it had a bunch of flowers in it, they were very well packed, but also pretty small!
Last weekend, we made the trip down to Cornwall to plant them. Alas, there was a lack of power in Lucy’s cottage so we couldn’t stay in her barn as planned. This meant that our first stop was to drop off our bags at her neighbour’s house, who had very kindly offered to put us up for the night. As we chatted to our hosts, they casually dropped into the conversation that the previous owner of Lucy and Neil’s house was none other than Will Young! I am a massive fan, so I kind of did an inner squeal of delight! It was his ‘get away from it all’ cottage that he had owned for 15 years. Sadly he wasn’t getting to visit as often as he wanted, so had decided to sell so that someone else could start enjoying and caring for it instead. You can read more here about the house when he owned it.
The house is in an amazing setting, surrounded by moorland with a lake below and big old granite Bodmin boulders everywhere. I can see why a somewhat frazzled popstar would find the instant sense of calm and space alluring!
We came equipped with spades, forks, dogs and the trees, and some granules of microrhizomes (Monty Don to thank for that!) These help the trees as “mycorrhizas are fungal associations between plant roots and beneficial fungi. The fungi effectively extend the root area of plants and are extremely important to most wild plants, but less significant for garden plants where the use of fertilisers and cultivation disrupts and replaces these associations.” Now you know!
Betty on her lookout post
Me with one of the tiny trees!
There were 6 of us planting, and in hindsight we could have got a lot more planted. It took us just 2.5 hours, including tying the protective plastic sleeves to canes to support them. 60 little trees are now adjusting to their new environment and Lucy is going to keep a close eye on them.
Dave, Lucy and Neil in front of a planted tree whip, waiting to have it's protection around it.
Lucy and Zed, admiring their work.
Personally, this gave me an “enormous sense of personal wellbeing” (to quote Blur) and makes me feel that although we are tiny cogs in a massive wheel, this kind of stuff is infectious and makes us feel like we really can make a difference. The big question is, where next?!
Look out for updates on the trees as they get bigger.