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.
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.
On another beautiful day of this British summer, a group of young adults arrived ready with filled water bottles and lots of enthusiasm to plant 30 silver birches in Roundwood Park. The fundraising for this campaign had been successfully completed by this group, who named themselves Team Emeke. This is an ongoing partnership with Teratrees and the National Citizen Service (NCS). One of Teratrees’ objectives is to connect future generations with Nature, and today it was successfully accomplished, along with some urban greening!
Team Emeke of the NCS – The Challenge
Surveying the morning’s work of planted silver birches
One of the local park snails is up for investigation!
But the team is getting hungry!
Job done, time to celebrate!
Many thanks to the Veolia team of Roundwood Park for their support.
Across Western and Eastern Europe, North and South America, the Balkans, Russia and China and many more cultures, they all celebrate in various ways the joys of midsummer and the summer solstice. These celebrations go back to ancient times when humans were more connected to the cycles of the Sun, Earth and Moon.
In ancient Greece, the summer solstice marked the one month count down to the Olympic Games, while before Christianity, European pagans welcomed midsummer through massive bonfires.
In England, the place to be is Stonehenge, and many people, including neo-pagans, neo-druids and tourists, gather to watch the sun rise as the ancient people did 5,000 years ago.
Humans have always been connected to the cycles of nature. Perhaps this is being remembered.
With the tilt of the Earth at 23.4° now working in the Northern Hemisphere’s favour, thereby collecting more solar radiation and awakening dormant seeds and buds in trees and plants. Spring is a time of regeneration and the fresh green colours are vibrant at this time of year, showing off their vitality and cells packed with chlorophyll to harvest energy from the Sun.
Fresh green leaves of spring.
Bluebells are out providing tones of blue and are protected under English law.
Bluebells poking through the trees.
Bluebells take 5 -7 years to establish.
Young calves also enjoy the spring, with new sights and sounds appearing.
A symbol seen across Europe in churches, with archetypal links to Osiris, St George and Al Khidr, is the Green Man. The Green Man is a potent symbol representing regeneration, renewal and rebirth, as well as human connection with Nature.
To plant multiple trees usually depends on a large amount of people, the use of technology, or a combination of both. These routes will be looked at here, first looking at India.
In India last year, 1.5 million volunteers planted 66 million trees in 12 hours, which is most likely a new record. Saplings of 20 different species were place along the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh. This is an example which shows what can be done with political will and a recognition of what is needed in this time of anthropogenic climate change. India is third in the world for carbon emissions.
1.5 million volunteers making a great change.
Another route being explored for mass planting is the use of drones. The startup Biocarbon Engineering uses drone technology to fire seed pods into the ground, with follow-up care done by local communities. A hectare of planting can be covered in 15 minutes, with preferred projects of 100 hectares. One hundred thousand pods can be planted in a day. This technological route bodes well for the future, although care is still needed to make a seed grow into a tree.
A drone linked to mapping technology can plant a hectare of seed pods in 15 minutes. [Biocarbon Engineering]
A third route, is to combine humans and technology to achieve large scale planting. This is what we are working on at Teratrees, which also has the advantage of connecting young people to Nature. We believe through many humans and the internet, many projects can be initiated, and we continue to work towards this goal.
A team of students surveying their handiwork in a local London park.
On a frosty Tuesday morning, 41 young students from Sinclair House School led by the Pastoral Deputy Head, Ms Charlotte Wheeler, made their way to Bishops Park. Armed with trowel and big smiles, they proceeded to plant 60 native hornbeam trees to help the park with their hedge. Hedges are also important for wildlife ecosystems such as birds.
Smiling faces after 60 native hornbeams are planted
The Council were much appreciative as budgets are stretched, thus with the support of the parents of the students and teaching staff, these trees could be funded and planted. The trees will also have stakes and plastic tubes for protection.
One of the objectives of Teratrees is to connect children with nature, and this was a great success. Further projects may well occur in Bishops Park to help sustain the park and help with the local air quality.
At this time of year, as the light and dark balance and the leaves turn golden, it is a good time to plant new trees. Trees which are planted in a dormant state have a much better chance of being ready for the warmer weather of Spring and Summer.