A few weeks ago a group of Greener Henley friends went for an evening walk around Henley looking at some of the green spaces in the town. We are blessed with having several green areas within the town borders which of course includes the two Town Greens for the use of residents in perpetuity.

We were looking in particular for a suitable site for a ‘tiny forest’ a successful idea of dense planting of natural species saplings (trees and shrubs) in an area the size of a tennis court. These are the brainchild of Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki who noticed that when trees are very densely planted they grow faster than conventional forests which could take over 100 years.

We all know that trees are so important to our ecology and climate. They capture carbon from the atmosphere, they reduce the overall temperature, provide shade, prevent soil erosion and flooding and of course provide food and shelter for non-human species. Early town planners were aware of this and planted avenues of trees in urban streets, St. Marks and St. Andrews for example. Apparently Napolean ordered plane trees to be planted in French cities so that his soldiers would have somewhere shady to rest on their marches.

Present day cities like Madrid are planting a huge belt of forest around the city to bring down the unbearable temperatures becoming common and reduce the risk of wild fires.

The Woodland Trust highlights the fragmentation of wildlife rich landscapes and how previously species could move between patches of habitat and colonise new areas. Now they are blocked by roads or land reserved for agriculture. Size matters for wildlife yet 75% of England’s woods are less than 10 hectares in size. As they say …
“A loss of biodiversity is devastating. Species that have evolved and developed to take part in the complex dance of the natural world can be lost in an instant. This can impact long established food chains and even our food production through loss of essential pollinators.”

Not many of us could plant an oak tree in our garden, but we can all appreciate our national tree and educate others to protect them. Did you know that a mature oak can support 2,300 species – 326 entirely dependent on oak for their survival? For instance, the lovely named Marveille du jour moth eats oak leaves and is beautifully camouflaged to look like lichen on an oak tree.

Some areas in the country are adopting the ‘Trees for Streets’ campaign. Householders can ask for a tree to be planted on the verge outside their home. This particular scheme matches sponsors with councils who will help plant the tree.

If you know an area of ground, possibly neglected that would be ideal for one or two of our native species trees or shrubs, let us know as the County Council are encouraging tree planting in the county. Perhaps we can tap into their enthusiasm.

Also, we have just heard the first whisper about Oxfordshire’s Garden Tree Giveaway. We are hoping to get this organised in Henley from mid-September so keep an eye out for the advertisements on how to apply. More information to follow.

I have just received details of a great event that schools and similar groups can get involved with for Just One Tree Day which is on the 13th October. For the privilege of not wearing school uniform, children give £1 which goes towards global reforestation.

To date over 200,000 children from 14 countries have joined together to plant over a quarter of a million trees. The money raised is used to plant the ‘right trees in the right places’ supporting reforestation projects in Brazil, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal and Zambia. This also includes mangrove forests and kelp regeneration in the seas off the Philippines and Australia.

Just One Tree is a British not for profit organisation founded by a young mother with a passion to make a difference in the fight against climate change and the biodiversity crises. It just goes to show that from small acorns great oaks grow. Do you know anyone who might be interested in joining in this year?

Finally, if encouraging tree planting is something that interests you but you don’t have the space, there are other things you can do to help our depleted wildlife. More news next time about an exciting Henley challenge. In the meantime please get in touch if you have any questions at [email protected].

A Marveille du jour moth which eats oak leaves
a beautiful river landscape at sunset with the words 'Nature Emergency' blazoned across it

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