Planting trees is good for the planet… or is it?
Trees capture carbon, provide food and shelter for invertebrates, birds and mammals and can even help with natural flood management.
So planting more trees must be good for the planet, right?
It’s certainly true that trees are vital in any healthy ecosystem, but only if they are the RIGHT trees in the RIGHT place.
The RIGHT tree
So, what is the right tree?
Well, the answer to that depends on where you are. To benefit the environment, we need to plant trees that are native to each specific area.
In our catchment area, for example, the right trees include Sessile oak, downy birch, silver birch, hawthorn, hazel, holly, blackthorn, rowan and in wet areas, alder.
All these trees are native to our catchment area, which means that they’ve evolved over thousands of years creating symbiotic relationships with surrounding flora and fauna (where both the tree and wildlife benefit). In other words, native trees support lots of different life forms, including birds, mammals, invertebrates and other plant life.
Non-native trees, which are trees introduced either accidentally or purposely to an area, do not support the same wealth of native wildlife, which can reduce biodiversity and damage ecosystems.
It’s also important to have a mix of native trees to support a variety of different life forms. This also protects the woodland from pests or disease, such as ash dieback, that can spread quickly and ravage single species woodland.
The RIGHT place
‘Where’ is as important as ‘what’ when it comes to planting native trees. The last thing we want to do is destroy valuable habitats, such as species rich grasslands, peatland or areas that support ground nesting birds.
The Forestry Commission has developed a set of guidelines and standards that we work to. These standards and best practice guides make sure woodland meets the international agreement and conventions on areas such as sustainable forest management, climate change, biodiverisity and the protection of water resources.
In summary, planting native trees is good for the environment providing we plant the right tree in the right place!
Take a look at our events page for the next tree planting volunteering day.
Know your trees: can you recognise the most common native trees? Find out how to identify our native trees by reading our blog.