St Albans has numerous special places – in the parks or little walkways, overhung with native trees, or sentinels in our own roads. They provide familiarity and comfort. Read on to find ways to look after local trees.
This blog, from founder members of Trees of St Albans and local tree wardens Anthony Helm and Amanda Yorwerth, celebrates the beauty, and vulnerability, of the trees which surround us, and how you can help.
We have grown up with them.
They act as touchstones: we want to explore more.
Woods; in fiction and in real life, are highy evocative places.
The loss of tree canopy matters
Sadly, many trees are under threat, and some might not be enjoyed by those who will succeed us. The reasons are varied.
Some, like cherry trees, were planted long ago and have come to the end of their natural life; others are succumbing to disease, like ash dieback, or pests.
- Vehicles are in many places destroying the soil through which trees breath, move and feed
- More are being lost because of building developments or the possibility of legal actions
- Others are felled under the accusation of being ‘overgrown’ or ‘casting shade’
Trees offer ‘silent benefits’
All this matters not just because trees are beautiful. More importantly they provide a myriad of unseen services: shelter from winds; cooling from increasingly harsh heat waves; filtration of harmful airborne particles; baffling sound from noisy roads; rejuvenation of soil; amelioration from devastating flooding; habitats for many species.
If all this were not sufficient, trees absorb carbon dioxide (the principal greenhouse gas) – and provide oxygen – without which humans would suffocate.
Old trees need protection
To look after local trees, as a matter of the greatest priority, we must maintain and rebuild our local tree canopy.
One mature tree is worth thousands of new plantings.
A major focus for everyone in St Albans District wanting to look after trees must be to work a lot harder to retain these silent friends; we should stand up and speak for our trees, with neighbours and our political representatives, at all levels.
New trees should be planted
We have to renew as well, and pre-pandemic proposals gave the prospect that thousands of trees would be planted in the District. Now organisations, families and many individuals look after local trees by actively planting, or are planning to plant, trees over the next year or so.
The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, and other projects aim at tackling climate change and improving the environment.
St Albans District Council, Herts County Council, the Parishes, and many others, e.g. schools, are involved, with local people, especially children, keen to assist, in the significant plantings of very young trees. Councillors, from their own budgets, are also planting single trees on highway verges and in green spaces. And we are seeing that sustainability is inspiring the planting of community orchards in small pockets of land for local food.
If you are part of a group which manages pockets of land – a school, a church, a parish council – then why not plant a tree (or more!) as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy?
Despite all the above, there is a net loss of tree canopy in urban areas and each of us can do our own bit.
We can all do our bit to look after trees! – planting in the garden
Those with gardens can:
- Find a space for a fruit tree
- Replace a fence with a hedge of native plants (especially at front of properties)
- Gardening is about possibilities and change; nowadays the options for species selection are vast. See the RHS guides to trees, hedges, and flowering hedges.
We can also spend more time looking around our immediate locality; seeing which trees are damaged or diseased or need releasing from a choking tree-tie. In the dryer months new trees will need watering. Pop out and water the young trees near your house, or on your regular dog walk.
We can all do our bit! – caring for street trees
We, as individuals, can do the detailed monitoring and undertake the small actions that councils can’t.
Report major issues here – www.stalbans.gov.uk/trees-contact-us-or-report-problem.
Care for trees, and you care for yourself
It can create a spring in your step. But you already knew this….
Looking after our own patch (our borrowed landscape) is a pleasure. It is not difficult or time consuming and can be built into normal activities. It allows us to form our own connection with nature; release tensions; make us physically stronger and build creativity.
Get more involved
SustFest22 – If you are in a local group and planning an action to support trees – why not do it as part of the 2022 St Albans Sustainability Festival? See more here.