Tribes of supporters come out of the woods

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The Independent Online

The Independent on Sunday's Forest campaign has uncovered a vast network of tree enthusiasts quietly planting thousands of saplings across the country. Having read about our plans to establish our own carbonabsorbing forest, dozens of groups have contacted us for information as they, too, attempt to "green" the countryside.

The Independent on Sunday's Forest campaign has uncovered a vast network of tree enthusiasts quietly planting thousands of saplings across the country. Having read about our plans to establish our own carbonabsorbing forest, dozens of groups have contacted us for information as they, too, attempt to "green" the countryside.

We intend to plant 750 young trees - calculated to offset the amount of carbon dioxide, one of the main greenhouse gases, we produce in a year. Others are, in their own way, trying to do something similar. The many groups involved might seem a strange set of bedfellows, including, for example, an organic burial company, the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids and one of the major producers of PVC in Britain. But they share a common cause: looking at ways to tackle pollution, believing that trees are the key to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and raising environmental awareness.

Some have already made a big contribution. The Community Forest Programme, for example, has planted 12 forests across the country and 26 million trees since it was established in 1990. The Woodland Trust owns and manages 43,000 acres of woodland in more than 1,000 sites, planting 500,000 trees a year. It works with a range of groups, including Future Forests - the group working in partnership with the Independent on Sunday - which promotes "carbon neutral" woodland across Britain.

The Post Office is planting at least 20,000 trees at Post Office groves throughout the UK, and the Women's Institute is running a "Woods on Your Doorstep" project which involves 200 new woodlands across the country. "If you don't get people involved at a local level then it is harder to get them interested in the wider debate about the environment," said Peter Leeson, a land and property manager for the Woodland Trust. "The problem we've had in the past is making people aware of the threat to the global and local environment."

Unison, the union that represents 1.25 million public sector workers, has underwritten the £50,000 cost of making all its 1,300 branches "carbon neutral".

Such well established organisations are accompanied by a host of smaller groups and individuals who are equally keen to promote the spread of British woodland. Anne Antonelli is typical. She is part of a community co-operative in North Wales near Llanrwst which has enlisted the help of Snowdonia National Park Authority to replant an area of woodland with 600 indigenous trees. "We are committed to conserving the environment and will soon be planting a woodland garden," she said.

The Green Burial Company has also contacted us, pointing out that it carries out landscaping around a grave and then plants an indigenous tree on the site. "We aim to create areas of lasting woodland and a permanent resting place for those buried there," said Warwick Clarke, a spokesman for the company. "Environmentally friendly burials save pollution from unnecessary embalming, extravagant coffins, memorials of inappropriate materials, energy used by crematoria and pollution from their chimneys.

"As long as biodegradable materials are used interment returns those buried from whence they came - carbon. There is an added attraction in that they and the woods resulting are most unlikely to be dug up."

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