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Frank Hovis

More tree planting - gaaah!

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I am pleased to see Friends of the Earth calling this out as "sticks in the ground" as the attitude that it's marvellous to plant a tree has always annoyed me.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42591494

There are two main reasons why this gets my goat:

You don't need to plant trees; trees just grow. What you need to do is protect areas of land from grazing animals and the woodlands will just expand.  It lacks the ego trip of "I planted that tree" to say "I put up that fence" but it's pots better.

There are trees and trees. The natural woodland coverage of lowland Britain was primarily small-leaved lime so this is the natural dominant tree of Britain and for which the rest of the eco system has adapted. 

Tree planters however buy whatever they fancy from the garden centre, oaks, Mediterranean species, whatever takes their fancy, and plonks that in.

Now I agree that a tree is better than no tree, but a natural tree that has self seeded in an environment for which it is suited is far better than some random tree.  And well done FoE for calling them out on this.

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Posted (edited)

I think you are being a bit disengenuous with FoEs quote there :-)

I'd read the FoE spokesperson as saying that we shouldn't con oursleves that saplings are a replacement for mature forest, so replacing mature forest with 'sticks in the ground' is a poor response to felling mature forest. I don't think he is arguing against 'sticks in the ground' per se.

As to your broader point, so long as suitable stick species are selected, kickstarting a wood with sticks will speed the path to a wood.

BUT,  it will aprobably always be a poor choice as the nursery growth of saplings will circumvent the natural selection that would occur in early life from seed that is vital for survival in the wild, or perhaps it will even select for 'nursery traits', so a future wood may be feebler. This is especially the case if the nursery stock comes from a small gene pool, and you can imagine that it might, perhaps seeds from one tree, in which case you could imagine vast swathes of future woodland could be more predisposed to disease and it's rapid spread.

Trying to garden nature is never the best idea, especially when bureaucrats are allowed to implement their quick fix ideas.

Edited by Hopeful

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The problem with letting a woodland grow naturally is it will take centuries. There are dominant species that will have to grow and die before anything else gets a look in , eg betula. 

What annoys me is that municipal projects plant loads of these betula species as they're cheap but they only live for about 50 years.

They plant oaks because the English have some affinity with them. Conversely in France they have no issues with cutting down a 200 year old oak to make a few tables. 

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Just heard this "northern forest" idea being talked about on radio 5 live now. (Before reading this thread.)

Agree that some trees are better than no trees but that sticks in the ground look artificial and nothing like a natural forest.

Doesn't say which species are to be planted? Liked the final comment from BBC chap to say looks like it will be more of a green doily than a green ribbon!

In our garden here in SW France, (quite a big garden as rural) we are letting the acorns and walnuts grow.  Moved in here 2 yrs ago and there were just a few mature trees sprinkled about. Most of the rest of the area surrounding the house had been mowed/grazed/manicured during time of the previous owners. We don't want a big formal garden so are just allowing most of it to do what it wants now - ie letting it gently morph back into a forest of sorts. Of course, we will never see that future forest, and might be chopped down again as soon as we are not around to protect it. But we live in hope it will grow.  Naturally growing wild tress and bushes are wonderful - the birds, insects and animals all benefit.

Biggest threat to the earth at the moment seems (to me) to be over-population. (And resulting over consumption.) But most ppl I know don't see it that way at all. They think we probably will need more ppl to look after the elderly and to buy stuff. They say that there are still lots of empty properties and spaces to build on so we can accommodate a bigger population.  Problem is the necessary infrastructure and that the big towns/cities are where the jobs/fun are, so inevitably ppl will have to commute. I predict we will be chopping, clearing and polluting ourselves into eventual disaster with even mostly increased numbers, who will be needing more essential services and with all the additional travelling/deliveries? (Just quite gradually  - like a frog being slowly boiled alive?)

I know a shock drop to the human population would probably also be really bad for those who remain, (insufficient supplies and human help when sick etc),  but it probably would be a lifeline for many other species of animals and plants?  (Often wonder what the earth would look like after a few years if all humans suddenly disappeared overnight.)

Conclusion, hurray the govt will be planting some trees soon, but what will we be losing (while they are doing that) in terms of nice, natural (unlittered) green spaces due to more ppl, house building and bigger roads etc?

 

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2 hours ago, spunko2010 said:

The problem with letting a woodland grow naturally is it will take centuries. There are dominant species that will have to grow and die before anything else gets a look in , eg betula. 

What annoys me is that municipal projects plant loads of these betula species as they're cheap but they only live for about 50 years.

They plant oaks because the English have some affinity with them. Conversely in France they have no issues with cutting down a 200 year old oak to make a few tables. 

I'm amazed oaks every get to maturity. The nearest dog walk is newly planted wood (road bypass blocking scheme, which worked), the oaks are straggly slow growing weaklings, which often shed or have dying lower limbs compared to the rest of the planting with just a smattering of live branches above.  Don't know but maybe the mixed planting with short lived species works in a way as long as the slower growing species don't get completely dominated - you get some fast growing cover and wind reduction from t eh fast growing species and when they die back the slower ones then grow through having been partially protected. I'm sure the planting is significantly over-tight initially to allow for natural die back and then planned thinning over time to then select trees for maturity - although not much sign of that in the above gas thus far.

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1 hour ago, onlyme said:

I'm amazed oaks every get to maturity. The nearest dog walk is newly planted wood (road bypass blocking scheme, which worked), the oaks are straggly slow growing weaklings, which often shed or have dying lower limbs compared to the rest of the planting with just a smattering of live branches above.  Don't know but maybe the mixed planting with short lived species works in a way as long as the slower growing species don't get completely dominated - you get some fast growing cover and wind reduction from t eh fast growing species and when they die back the slower ones then grow through having been partially protected. I'm sure the planting is significantly over-tight initially to allow for natural die back and then planned thinning over time to then select trees for maturity - although not much sign of that in the above gas thus far.

I'm of the opposite opinion really - an oak tree produces 5 - 10k acorns every year yet only 1.4 on average (iirc) of those go on to produce another successful tree! 

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3 hours ago, spunko2010 said:

I'm of the opposite opinion really - an oak tree produces 5 - 10k acorns every year yet only 1.4 on average (iirc) of those go on to produce another successful tree! 

That's all you need to be very succesful. An Oak tree 'poisons' the ground beneath it so that acorns won't germinate, as it doesn't need competition. So the acorns have to be carried away and then not eaten. So a Squirrel's forgetful memory is perfect.

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