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5 reasons to celebrate trees

5 reasons to celebrate trees Jakob Owens/Unsplash

It’s National Tree Week – the annual celebration of trees in the UK.

It’s also just over a year since the Charter for Trees, Woods and People was launched, coordinated by the Woodland Trust and a host of other organisations to mark the 800th anniversary of Charter of the Forests.

The charter’s ambition is to place trees at the centre of national decision-making and back at the heart of our lives and communities. Trees have always managed to capture our imagination in ways that other plant life does not, and they’re so worth protecting. Here are five reasons we should all celebrate and protect our trees and their place in our countryside.

1. They’re good for our mental health

There’s no denying that trees are some of the plant world’s most beautiful members – they come in a myriad of incredible shapes, sizes and colours, from the silvery aspen to the rugged oak. But they’re also great for our mental health - the rustle of leaves and tranquillity of a forest is also intensely calming. Even in our urban environment trees provide us with a space to unwind, relax and exercise – all vital for our mental health.

2. They’re at home in our countryside

The character of many of our most iconic English landscapes are defined by the presence or absence of trees; think the dense woodlands of the New Forest, the windswept moors of the Peak District, or the wooded denes of the Surrey Hills. Our countryside is dotted with hedgerow trees, many of which are hundreds of years old, and form an important part of our landscape character. Without trees, our landscape would be poorer.

3. They can help us fight climate change

The key cause of global warming and climate change is CO2. When CO2 builds up in the atmosphere it creates a ‘greenhouse effect’, trapping heat from the sun and warming the planet. Trees remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it to oxygen to generate energy through photosynthesis. Planting trees can help us trap carbon and prevent it from contributing to climate change, so we can leave a healthy countryside and planet for the next generation.

4. They help prevent flooding

Trees can act as natural flood defences. When they’re near rivers and streams they slow and reduce the amount of water entering our waterways, reducing the chances of flooding downstream. They also help filter the water and prevent soil erosion, vital for keeping our countryside healthy.

5. They provide a home for wildlife

The English countryside would be nothing without our wildlife, and some of the UK’s most iconic species find a home in our trees. Roughly one in four of the UK's threatened bird species are found in woodland, and a myriad of small mammals, insects and amphibians rely on trees for food and shelter.

As the years pass and the seasons change, our trees and woodlands are a constant presence – connecting us to the past, but making our lives better now and into the future. Trees provide so many benefits for humans and for the natural world. That’s why CPRE are proud to be part of the national movement to celebrate, protect and improve our trees and woodland.

Here are five reasons we should all celebrate and protect our trees and their place in our countryside.

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