Friday, 23 November 2012

National Tree Week

Saturday 24th November - Sunday 2nd December

Recent events have confirmed that the view across the countryside and in our towns is set to change faster than anyone could have expected.  In recent years, pests and diseases have started to threaten some of our most loved trees, such as oak and horse chestnut, but the spread of Chalara fraxinea (ash dieback) and the anticipated devastation of the UK population of ash trees has left everyone considering what the next steps should be. 

National Tree Week was launched in 1975 to maintain the tree planting momentum to replace the losses resulting from Dutch elm disease, which had already wiped out more than 20 million of our most significant landscape trees.  The Tree Council has run the festival every year since, encouraging everyone to celebrate the tree planting season in a variety of ways, not least of which is by planting more trees.  This year, once again, the landscape is being altered. We are facing losses that will change the view out of our windows, from town pavements, country footpaths and across fields and woods. Since trees make a difference to so many aspects of life, wildlife and biodiversity – and that includes people – will be affected. We need to act to change our view, both figuratively and literally.

“Anyone with land of their own, whether a garden, woodland or field, can make a difference to their view by adding a tree”, said Pauline Buchanan Black, Director-General of The Tree Council. “This year, though, the campaign carries particular significance as we look for ways to minimise the impact of ash dieback and carefully consider what to plant. Rising concern about tree diseases has also reminded us of the importance of checking not only where the seed of their tree started life, but also where it was germinated and grown. Not since Plant A Tree in ’73 has there been the same urgency to safeguard a view for the future”.

Alasdair Douglas, Chair of The Tree Council, added “It is almost exactly 40 years since Secretary of State for the Environment Peter Walker stood up in the House of Commons and announced that the following year was to be designated National Tree Planting Year. This was the Government initiative to encourage the planting of new trees to replace those millions killed by Dutch Elm Disease. The Tree Council was formed from that initiative and has been running National Tree Week ever since. We couldn’t have foreseen that we’d be faced with the losses from a tree disease of similar epidemic proportions just as we go in to National Tree Week but this seems a timely moment to ask the public to think carefully about what will happen to their view and what they will do to restore it for future generations.”

Visit The Tree Council's website for details of local events and tips on tree planting and aftercare. Event information is also available from the Tree Council infoline, 020 7940 8180 (during office hours).

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