Pondering the future of trees

National Tree Week, which started yesterday, is a good time to take stock of a pretty turbulent time for trees in the UK.

The rise and spread of ash dieback has thrust the future of woods in to the public consciousness
for the second time in as many years.

Last year it was the public outcry over the future of the publically owned forestry estate in England. It only became clear how much we cared for our forests and woods when they were under threat.

Now its the threat to our beloved trees from disease. Ash dieback has joined bleeding canker disease, threatening the future of horse chestnuts, as a live challenge to our woods and landscape.

Trees and woods are an integral part of our national story. They provided shelter, fuel and fired the beginnings of the industrial revolution and our rise as a maritime super power. Ancient trees have witnessed revolutionary events from the signing of the magna carta to Newton discovering the laws of gravity and the first trade union meeting under one.

Yet the next twenty or thirty years could shape our treescapes and woods. The rise of diseases is putting into question the survival of some of our iconic species.

And the elephant in the room is a changing climate. Trees like humans tend to prefer predictable weather. But we’re in the realm of extreme weather patterns: from flooding to drought. All causing stress and strain for our woods and forests.

National Tree Week is a chance to take a step back and think about why trees matter so much to us. But also to think how we manage change rather than burying our heads in the sand.

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