What is #NationalTreeWeek ?

By Jonny Haskins 20 November 2019

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Across the entire world, “Arbor Day” is a shared holiday where we are all encouraged to plant trees.  Depending on the climate and suitable planting season, the date varies in each country. In the UK it is more than a one day event and is known as “National Tree Week”.  This marks the start of the winter tree planting season and runs annually, with this year from 23 Nov – 1 Dec.

First launched in the UK in 1975, around 1 million trees are planted each year by schools, community organisations and local authorities as well as individual’s.  The first Arbor Day is recorded as early as 1594 in the Spanish village Mondoñedo. The first event in the United States was in Nebraska on April 10, 1872 where 1 million trees were planted in one go!

Our awareness is finally starting to realise the importance of trees and their greatly needed natural ability to absorb CO2.  They also look better in our cities and gardens alike. Our landscapes were once covered in forests, but industrial farming over the last 10,000 years as had the biggest impact on this. Deforestation worldwide “saw” 129 million hectares of forest loss since 1990.  That’s a change from 31.6% total coverage in 1990 to 30.6% in 2015.  

However, there is some good news.  Deforestation is starting to slow in some areas, where in Europe it has actually increased and seen this coverage expand by 16 million trees in the last 20 years.  This is in part helped by increased demand for wood in construction and furniture alongside private interests of owning woodlands increasing and now accounting for 50% in the UK’s forests.  Through buying a “wooden” bed is in fact a sustainable choice. Along with it being less pollutant to produce than most other material types, e.g. metal or upholstered, it drives the need to plant more trees now that forests in Europe are responsibly managed and re-planted.  Commercial interests unfortunately are the principal driver of deforestation and it’s a different story in many other continents. 

Great progress has already been made with woodland in the UK having doubled since WW1 where it bottomed out at 5% coverage at a time where timber was greatly needed. It’s now at the same levels as the 1750’s which is 12.9% of total land area.  However, in comparison to the UK’s European neighbours where the average is 44%, France being at 29%, there is “planty” of catching up to do!

How to get involved this National Tree Week:

Search for events near you:
https://www.treecouncil.org.uk/Take-Part/Near-You

Start an event.
Many more events are needed across the country and world, so maybe your local community can start one.  Rallying your local council to invest also is much needed. 

Planting tree guide.
You can simply take part by planting a tree in your garden at home or work.

https://www.treecouncil.org.uk/Take-Part/National-Tree-Week

Spread the word
To bring awareness to the efforts and importance of this, share your new sapling on social media with the hashtag #NationalTreeWeek.  Don’t forget to check back each year to see how they are growing!

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