“Looking to find suitable areas to plant the trees” in the Sid Valley [Town Council environment committee]
“Massive projects need much more planning and follow-through to succeed – and other tree protections need to happen too.”
“The very best solution is not tree planting at all. Given protection from livestock, deer and the farmer’s plough, existing woodlands can restock the country all on their own. For all sorts of reasons, such woodlands are likely to be far better suited to the local environment and far more resilient.” [Ed Ikin, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew’s Wakehurst site]
TREES IN THE SID VALLEY:
Should the Sid Valley be planting thousands of trees?
A year ago, the town council’s environment committee committed to planting thousands of trees:
The Working Group considered a new ambitious target to plant 14,000 trees (1 for every person that lives in the Sid Valley) A group was setup to look at the feasibility and of 1,000 trees being planted by April 2023. The group would approach farmers, landowners and others looking to find suitable areas to plant the trees. They would look to plant the remaining 13,000 trees within 4-5years. minutes-0110722-Environment.pdf
Over the last year, specific projects have been carefully considered: FIFTY MORE TREES – Sidmouth Arboretum and The new community ‘food forest’ taking shape in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald and More than 700 trees planted at Sidmouth to created wildlife corridor
The key is ‘looking to find suitable areas to plant trees’: Right trees, right place – Vision Group for Sidmouth
Moreover, the various groups involved in the Sid Valley are also very keen to look after and enhance the trees which are already with us – both within our urban setting: Stop the chop: looking after our mature urban trees – Vision Group for Sidmouth
And out in the valley: Veteran trees and ancient woodland in the Sid Valley – Vision Group for Sidmouth
THE LIMITS OF PLANTING TREES:
Besides, simply planting thousands of trees is not ‘the solution’, however.
Forests are a crucial line of defense against climate change. But trees can’t absorb enough CO2 to stop climate change on their own, no matter how many we plant. Why don’t we just plant a lot of trees? | MIT Climate Portal
Massive projects need much more planning and follow-through to succeed – and other tree protections need to happen too Why planting tons of trees isn’t enough to solve climate change | sciencenews.org
The science says that spending precious dollars for climate change mitigation on forestry is high-risk: We don’t know that it would cool the planet, and we have good reason to fear it might have precisely the opposite effect. More funding for forestry might seem like a tempting easy win, but it’s a bad bet. Opinion | To Save the Planet, Don’t Plant Trees – The New York Times
It’s perhaps more urgent to plant trees in urban areas – but it’s also much more difficult:
“Let’s not get distracted by the few historic squares [where] we can’t plant trees and instead focus on the over 90 percent of urban spaces that can and should be greened.” Scramble for shade: Why cities aren’t planting more trees – POLITICO
The weekend i-newspaper looked at the issues:
Why planting trees can sometimes be the wrong answer to climate change
Not enough research has been done into the value of grasslands and other habitats, meaning trees can end up being planted in places where they do more harm than good…
“We are still having conifers planted on peat bogs, which is about as short-sighted a move as you make from an environmental perspective,” Ed Ikin, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew’s Wakehurst site, tells i. The wrong kind of tree planting in the wrong places can have all sorts of negative consequences. Peat bogs are massive stores of carbon, holding twice as much of it worldwide as all global forests combined, despite accounting for just 3 per cent of the Earth’s land...
“Too often grasslands are earmarked as a place to plant trees. And that probably misses a significant part of the function that they’re currently providing. As open habitats, they will be hosting pollinators… they will be a really quite stable sink of carbon… and open habitats tend to be quite good for [people],” he says...
The very best solution, points out Mr Ikin, is not tree planting at all. Given protection from livestock, deer and the farmer’s plough, existing woodlands can restock the country all on their own. For all sorts of reasons, such woodlands are likely to be far better suited to the local environment and far more resilient.
“They tend to be fairly diverse in structural diversity, biologically diverse, and because invariably, they will be starting with quite a holistic relationship to their environment,” says Mr Ikin. That includes being plugged into the extensive below-ground fungi network that allows trees to share nutrients, water and information about predators.
The kind of environment in which those woodlands, as well as peat bogs and grasslands, thrive would require, says Mr Ikin, a return to a kind of “Mediaeval landscape” in terms of its nature and forest cover. That will also require a different mindset, he says...
The final word asks for careful consideration:
Mr Ikin says he welcomes the enthusiasm of so many private companies looking to get into woodland creation, but that much more evidence is needed to ensure the headlong drive into tree planting is done correctly. It is, after all, not a short term solution and requires thinking in decades not years.
“It’s not about what you do now. It’s not saying ‘we’ve planted a tree’, it’s saying we are establishing a woodland,” says Mr Ikin. “The management and care is just as critical as the planting. It’s perhaps not as exciting as a ribbon cutting but that’s what ultimately leads to success. The trees we’re planting at the moment won’t ultimately make the contribution we need until 2050. This is a much longer-term mindset we’re adopting. Action is needed now and yet we have these significant evidence gaps.”