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The need for trees

01:00 Sun 17th Dec 2000 |

FOR a nation that prides itself on its green and pleasant land, it is a shocking fact that Britain has less woodland per acre than any of our European neighbours.

So, what can we do to improve this state of affairs

Well, plant some more for starters.

This is National Tree Week, organised by the Tree Council and a variety of other conservation and community bodies. All over the country, people have been wielding their spades despite the mud and rain in an attempt to break the world record for the number of trees planted over a weekend.

Many of the seedlings are the fruits of the Tree of Time and Place campaign. For the past four years it has been encouraging us to gather seed from our favourite tree. Be it from a park, woodland or private garden, rear a seedling and then plant it.

The campaign's website has a map on which people can plot where they have planted their own special tree.

The two initiatives signal a greater national understanding of the importance of trees to our quality of life.

Trees have always been valued for their architectural shapes and shades, as homes for birds and collectively as forests and woods for walking in.

Now, with our environment seemingly in a state of turmoil, people are beginning to appreciate their practical benefits.

We are increasingly aware of the role of trees in absorbing carbon dioxide and airborne pollutants, as well as providing oxygen. And, as we mop up from the latest round of flooding, it's worth remembering that trees act like sponges, soaking up gallons of water that would otherwise make its way into our rivers and drains.

Some care needs to be taken in choosing trees according to what and where they're for. If individually or as part of a group you are looking to create a woodland, look no further than our 33 native British trees, old stagers like Oak, Ash, Beech, Birch, Field Maple and Rowan, that will fit in with the landscape.

In the garden, the choice is huge, depending on how much space you've got. Obviously a wopping great oak isn't right for a small city garden. Where space is limited most of us are going to want something that will provide interest for most, if not all of the year.

The medium and dwarf acers are hard to beat for their crackerjack winter colours, while siver birch and willows, with their multi-coloured winter stems are great all rounders. What are you're personal favourites

It seems the message is it's time we all started to love our trees and got planting. For more information on the tree planting campaigns visit www.treecouncil.org.uk (0207 828 9928) and www.totap.org.uk (0345 078 139).

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