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Environment & ethics   |   Grow your own

Putting down roots in 2020

After a year when so much precious forest across the globe was destroyed, many are choosing to combat climate change through tree planting. 

Whether you want to do some growing in your own garden, or join a group and connect with others, it’s a great opportunity to spend time outdoors, take positive action and cherish our local environment.

Everyone can get involved and it’s a great activity for all age groups, wherever you are. City dwellers can volunteer with Trees for Cities, creating urban forests that have benefits from  improving wellbeing  to increasing air quality.

Trees optimised
Trees are vital as carbon sinks as a climate mitigation tool. 

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, and a great place to start your tree planting journey wherever you live. Their ‘Every tree counts’ campaign highlights how vital our trees are as “the ultimate multi-taskers in the fight against climate change. They lock up carbon, fight flooding, reduce pollution, nurture wildlife and make landscapes more resilient.” 

If you are part of a school or community group, they have a scheme where you can apply to get a free tree pack to plant native species in your area. All their trees are sourced and grown in the UK from seeds collected within the British Isles, so there is much less risk of diseases and pests through plant imports. 

Another great initiative is The Orchard Project, who help communities to plant, manage, restore and harvest from their own orchards nationwide.

There are some fantastic regional organisations too, such as Moor Trees in Devon and The National Forest in the Midlands.

Further north, Trees for Life is a conservation charity dedicated to rewilding the Scottish Highlands – once heavily forested, by the middle of the last century only one per cent of these beautiful ancient forests remained. The estate is also home to an accredited carbon offset scheme, which funds the wider conservation work.

Tree planting
Trees for Life is rewilding an area of the Scottish Highlands.

Since the early 1990s, they have already planted nearly 2 million trees, but this is just the start. You can donate and they will plant on your behalf, or you can go and volunteer on one of their rewilding weeks and help restore the globally unique Caledonian Forest.

Apart from the environmental benefits, being around trees feels good – shinrin yoku or ‘forest bathing’ was one of 2019’s wellbeing trends, but actually those who spend time in forests doing this simple meditative practise have demonstrable reductions in stress, anxiety and depression.

If you have a favourite woodland, why not take a walk and gather seeds to grow your own trees? It’s an empowering and free activity. If you aren’t sure where to start, The Woodland Trust also sells native tree saplings and their simple instructions on how to plant a tree will ensure they grow strong and healthy. 

If you can’t plant a tree yourself, donating to tree charities will help them expand their vital work. Globally, charities such as Tree Aid and Trees for the future protect trees but also help prevent poverty and create thriving sustainable communities.

All the charities mentioned have the option to have trees planted as a gift – a great green idea for birthdays, weddings or anniversary presents.

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