UK government advisors on the value of natural capital recently published a report, warning that mass tree planting can cause harm if not planned properly. You can read a BBC article about it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52200045.
ITF has advocated planting the right tree, in the right place at the right time since we were founded in 1922. This involves the careful balancing of what local people want to plant with what is appropriate for the landscape.
Across the world, we have seen the negative effects of careless mass tree planting, from the draining of peat-bogs for Sitka Spruce plantations in Scotland to the invasion of natural African forests by the imported Guava tree. While there is no such thing as a ‘bad tree’, we believe there is such thing as a ‘wrong tree in the wrong place’ – i.e. one that could upset the delicate biodiversity and hydrology of an area. Sitka and Guava are both valuable and beautiful trees, but must be planted with care and fore-thought.
Every landscape relies on a delicate interaction of plants and animals, including people. Experience has shown that is it all too easy to plant millions of trees without care for these natural interactions. Large monocrop plantations that are being proposed yet again in the UK will threaten yet more of our vulnerable biodiversity. This is why ITF seeks to support reforestation programmes across the UK and Africa that plant mixtures of indigenous trees and only in areas that would have been forested naturally.
This is exemplified in our UK Community Tree Planting Programme. Last year, ITF supported 5 small-scale tree planting projects in the UK, all of which were designed and carried out by local community organisations. This not only provided the rare chance for communities to have a say in their own local landscapes, but also the chance for local people to get their hands dirty and learn first-hand about the native trees of their area. One such organisation, Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon in Oxford, managed to get the support of the local primary school pupils to help plant 525 native woodland trees.
ITF is now preparing for this year’s tree planting season and the next round of projects. If you think your community could benefit from this, please get in touch: