The heat wave this week in London culminated in some good, soaking rain which prepared the ground for some tree planting. This year saw the National Citizen Service’s 2019 Team Perham launch a Teratrees campaign to plant 30 silver birches in Roundwood Park. The team did various activities to raise awareness including a sponsored walk through Hyde Park and a petition targeting shoppers at a SW London mall. After being the winning pitch for their business idea they finally could plant the baby trees this morning.
With help from Peter McManus of Veolia at Roundwood Park, wheelbarrows, spades and stakes were assembled. In 10 years time this should be a sizeable grove when combined with the previous NCS students’ efforts. Congratulations to this team of young adults and well done for their tree planting and making a difference to the local environment.
While previously dismissed, recent articles have now given this idea some further credence. Through analysing spare ground on which trees could grow, researchers estimated 1.2 trillion trees could be planted. This amount would make a significant difference to the carbon present in the atmosphere, which is in the form of CO2. The name of Teratrees was originally inspired along these lines, with one tera of trees needed!
Trees enjoy summer to their utmost producing full growth up until August. Light is a precious commodity and leaves will maximise their absorption as they compete for space and light in the forest. Even while this growth is going on Nature is planning ahead with the formation of buds for the next spring. Trees lie dormant in winter and preserve their energy stores.
Scientists announced this month the discovery of the world’s tallest tropical tree! This was in Borneo by a team from the Universities of Oxford and Nottingham. They estimate the tree weighs around 82 tonnes and is just over 100 metres.
This giant meranti tree is so large that it can sustain its own ecosystem of more than 1,000 types of fungi, insects and plants. What a star of a tree!
For winged pollinators, the window of flowering is short. One can go past most trees with blossoms at this time and hear the buzz of bees. Famous in Japan are the sakura trees (cherry blossom) which bring in many tourists.
One can see how they inspired Japanese artists e.g. Hokusai.
Pine trees have excellent adaptations for winter. Their needs are thin with a small surface area and covered with a waxy substance called cutin. This prevents water from evaporating in summer and prevents freezing in winter.
It is also interesting to note that the volatile organic compounds that escape these needles are converted to aerosols when coming in contact with oxygen. These aerosols help form clouds which help hinder direct sunlight reaching the planet to maintain the heat balance.
Since the residents of Sheffield took to the streets to slow down an over-zealous council from removing multiples trees, there has been more awareness growing of the benefit these large urban organisms provide for us.
As the last post for the year, we would also like to wish you a merry Christmas and a great festive season. As a last thought for the year, we also ask you to think about what your relationship to Nature is, and what this means for how you will act in the world.
Nature is the law of balance in action. After fresh growth and longer days of light, plants and trees prepare for colder weather. Deciduous trees save the energy maintenance of keeping leaves alive which would otherwise have less photosynthesis in conditions of a light deficit. They withdraw nutrients and through the chemical reactions of sugars and tannins the leaves turn colour and fall. Metabolism slows and the roots become more dormant in the cold. This is actually a good time to plant a tree, as the tree has less demand for nutrients and water, and is less shocked by a new environment.
While humans scramble for layers of clothing and turn on heating in their homes, trees stand naked in the chill, with hardy specimens handling temperatures down to – 70 °C through the production of proteins that allows the space between cells to freeze, rather than the cells themselves. These temperature decreases are also good for killing pests and disease that would harm trees.
With the increasingly unpredictable temperature fluctuations and the increase in milder winters in some parts of the world, trees have less time to adapt. This will result in the death of more species due to periods of extreme cold, as well as to pests and disease from milder winters. More adaptable trees and exotic species will also migrate to new areas, as new habitable regions appear for them. In years to come we will see there has been a large shift in species migration.