Did you know?
- A ‘whip’ is a very young tree that hasn’t yet got any branches
- There is a bristlecone pine tree in California which is believed to be 5,000 years old
- There are 422 trees for every one person on earth
National Tree Week is here, running from November 26th to December 5th 2022. It’s the largest annual tree celebration when the conservation sector, volunteers and tree-lovers come together to plant thousands of trees and mark the start of the annual tree-planting season. The best time to plant trees in the UK is between October and April (as long as the soil is not frozen or waterlogged) because the trees have time to get established and need less care from humans.
National Tree Week is organised by The Tree Council, an umbrella charity for UK organisations who have been involved in the care, conservation, planting and celebration of trees for over 40 years since their founding in 1973. You might remember the slogan “Plant a Tree in ’73”. National Tree Week started in 1975 and several celebrities, Prime Ministers and royalty have planted trees to help the campaign.
The Tree Council want to encourage 3 actions from the general public which are to:
- Celebrate trees
- Plant trees
- Donate money for trees
Why are trees important?
Trees provide us with shade on hot days, habitats for animals, birds and insects, and wood for building and warmth. However, trees are not only important, they are essential for sustaining life on our planet. They are the superheroes of the plant kingdom, and here’s why.
Trees create oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. Leaves extract carbon dioxide and water from their environment, and using the energy from the sun, they convert this into chemicals that feed the tree. But a by-product of this is that oxygen is released by the tree and is used by other species on the planet and is necessary to sustain human life. It has been proposed that one large tree can provide one day’s supply of oxygen for up to four people.
In addition, trees also store carbon dioxide in their fibres, which is a major greenhouse gas affecting climate change. Trees helps to clean the air and reduce the negative effects that carbon dioxide can have on our environment by keeping the carbon in. As we stare down the barrel of the climate change gun, time is running out and planting trees is seen as an essential way to help reduce global warming. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, in one year, a mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, releasing oxygen in exchange.
How to get involved in your setting
There are so many ways to get involved in National Tree Week, which can help with your Understanding the World, Physical Health and STEM/STEAM curriculums. We’ve given you some ideas below to get you started.
Plant trees and hedgerows
The winter is the perfect time to get out and about with your setting and plant some trees. The good news is that no one has to plant a forest to make a difference. Even a small tree planted in a pot on your patio can contribute to making a greener future. The Tree Council have written an easy-to-follow downloadable guide to planting trees and hedgerows which you can access here. It’s full of information about:
- Choosing a site
- Which trees to plant
- Where to buy
- When to plant
- How to plant
- How to nurture your tree
You can even plant trees from seed which can be a great way to introduce your young children to nature and the life cycle of plants. The Tree Council website has lots of information and resources too.
Planting trees is especially topical this year as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy, which is a unique tree planting initiative to mark The late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which the country celebrated in June.
Visit some amazing trees
Getting out and about and visiting trees is hugely enjoyable, whether that is in a garden, park or area of outstanding natural beauty. Identifying different trees in your own area is also a great way to introduce children to the variety of trees we have in the UK, and The Woodland Trust have a great site with resources which are free to download.
If you want to visit some more unusual and famous UK trees, check out the list on the countryfile.com website for some amazing trees and their history or see the interactive map on The Tree Council site where you can also add your own local trees.
Raise some funds to raise some trees
The Tree Council is a charity and is committed to filling the nation’s schools with orchards and bringing children and young people closer to nature. They are trying to raise £20,000 for the Orchards For Schools programme which has already planted 80,000 fruit trees and fruiting hedgerows in over 2,000 schools across the country. So why not run a fund-raising event in your setting to help secure the future of the planet?
Become a Tree Warden/Young Tree Champion
If you have some free time, a love of trees and want to help conserve your local trees, you can apply to become a Tree Warden. No training or experience is needed – just enthusiasm and a few hours to spare. Visit the Tree Warden page of The Tree Council website for more details. For younger children, there is a scheme and separate website to inspire teachers and children to “unlock the power of trees” through their Young Tree Champions programme. You can create a free club account online and join in the community.
Investigate Forest School
Forest School is a child-centred approach to learning that offers “opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions.” It is more than just an occasional walk in the woods and has a whole long-term pedagogy associated with it. The programme supports “play, exploration and supported risk-taking” to develop children’s confidence and self-esteem through “learner-inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.” Adults can train to become Forest School leaders or you can find a Forest School near to you and join in their events and activities.