Britain is to host the next United Nations Climate Change Conference in November this year. The dangers from climate change are well documented. The government is committed to increasing the nation’s tree cover and thus soak up harmful carbon dioxide gas. The target is to extend tree cover from 13% to 17% by 2059 but there is a lot of catching up to do if this is to be achieved.
How can we play our part locally? We live in a beautiful area with its own spectacular woods. During lockdown, walks gave us more time to ‘stop and stare’. Obviously we cannot plant a forest here, but we can increase tree numbers, thus contributing to the national strategy. In doing so we also support biodiversity and beautify the environment. It is noteworthy too, how trees play a very useful role in absorbing moisture from the ground, particularly helpful in areas prone to flooding.
Lambourn Community Orchard
Already there is excellent evidence of our community at work on the issue. With the inspiration of Gill Temple, and the hard work of residents who planted the fruit trees, a Community Orchard was created. Special thanks to Arthur Cullen from West Berks Council who delivered the trees, stakes, ties and rabbit proofing to the site free of charge. In the future when the orchard becomes productive, people should be able to enjoy the harvest!
Also thanks to Arthur, a scruffy patch of unkempt land in Lambourn has been transformed into a garden, five trees were planted and new beech hedging surrounds it. Neighbours now dutifully maintain the lawn, irrigate the area in dry periods, remove the weeds and have planted wild flowers. They can now enjoy looking at this garden from their windows and find pleasure in sitting in it on sunny days.
Plans for Memorial Tree Planting in the Lambourn Valley
A new idea has been hatched to involve the twin benefits of increased cover and social good. This involves planting trees to mark important life events. Imagine how exciting it would be for a child to watch a tree grow which was planted to celebrate their birth. New trees could also mark other important rites of passage including marriages and their special significant anniversaries – Silver, Ruby, Golden, Diamond, for example.
It is also now quite common throughout the country for trees to mark the loss of loved ones by the planting of a memorial tree. In many ways this is a happier marker than the traditional tombstone and certainly a lot less expensive.
In discussions about these ideas with relevant parties, our own vicar the Revd Julie Mintern supports them. She sees the importance of environmental stewardship in Christian terms and has offered a lot of useful advice, including holding the planting records in the church for reference by residents (believers or not). She also suggested enlisting the help of The Woodland Trust and involving the local school – the potential of the study of trees in many areas of the curriculum is often used by teachers. Also Julie thought co-operation between different churches/parishes might be very helpful.
Our committed West Berks Council officer indicated that he is in favour of the idea and is willing to assist with identifying appropriate sites (without underlying pipes and cables or overhead wires and considering highway safety). He would also list suitable tree types for particular plots and source them.
Finally, Lambourn Parish Council, at its Burials and Open Spaces committee meeting on 24th March this year, declared that it approves of this proposal ‘in principle’.
If this scheme can get going we would love to expand it along the valley.