So why would we want to plant trees? We have just three decades to achieve net zero carbon emissions. We need to take carbon out of the atmosphere to help reduce greenhouse gases and reduce climate change. Planting trees offer us a means to start to address this whilst technologies are being developed.
However, trees don’t just absorb and store carbon generated from human activity.
As climate change impacts on us we will have more extreme weather events, such as those we experienced in the floods of 2019. Rainwater entering rivers quickly can cause flooding. As part of natural flood management, trees help delay and ‘slow the flow’ to reduce the risk of floods.
Nature has been under increasing pressure over several decades and the tragic loss of wildlife has been extensively reported. Planting woodland will help address this giving homes to plants and animals. At the same time as woodland cover increases, it will link up over the land scape, building wildlife corridors to help nature move and survive current and future pressures.
It’s not just nature that benefits, humans rely on nature to survive. Woodlands and trees make oxygen as well as absorbing carbon, help protect soil as well as reduce the likelihood of flooding. They also help improve water and air quality so our environment is cleaner, cooler and quieter. They are homes to animals that eat pests and pollinate our crops. These ecological services can be described as “Natural Capital” and will be very important in how we manage the land, particularly as subsidies to farmers are changed post-Brexit.
Public health benefits from more trees and woodlands. Having access to nature encourages activity and improves our physical and mental health. As a result, money spent on improving green spaces for nature and people saves the NHS money and can also support local health initiatives such as social prescription.
Woodlands and trees will support disadvantaged communities by addressing lower quality environments at a local level by improving access to improved environmental benefits and quality of life. By giving us socio economic benefits, communities can be happier, healthier and more cohesive with a sense of place.
There are also clear economic advantages. Having more trees improves the places we live and work and increases property values and inward investment. By planning and finding money for woodland creation we can also create green jobs and training.
During the lockdown more and more people discovered how much they rely on and appreciate on our greenspaces and countryside. Woodland creation and tree planting can help address health and inequalities as well as jobs and the economy. All of these are affected by biodiversity and climate change, natural capital and ecological services.
The above is a very brief description of why it’s important to plant trees. More information can be found here.