Tree Guardians Wanted!

Summer here in Beeston is increasingly unpredictable. Of course, the British love to discuss the weather, but extremes of cold and heavy rain, hail and flooded gardens one week and scorching hot sun the next is a marked reminder that our planet is heating up and extreme weather conditions become more extreme and more predictably unpredictable!  Such changes mark a significant shift in our landscapes, activities and the survival of species on our planet, not least that of human survival.  As regular readers of Trees of Beeston column will know, I am passionate about valuing and protecting the arboreal inhabitants of our part of Nottinghamshire.  Trees bring multiple benefits – oxygen production, carbon-dioxide absorption, providing habitats for bugs, birds and mammals, food provision for all kinds of animals, to say nothing of the shade in the summer, water absorption capacities when heavy rain and snow descend. Everyone should have a tree that they look after.

Trees of Beeston column is handed over to the fantastic Helene who is spearheading a campaign to reforest Broxtowe. I’ll let Helene explain more. If you would like to become a tree guardian and grow some acorns, please see the end of this article for more details. If everyone planted a tree what a phenomenal legacy it would be for future Beestonians! Here’s Helene with more:

OK, in a nutshell, national government climate change targets are talking about increasing the urban tree canopy to 30% (currently around 15%). Do you want to make sure that happens on our patch, on our watch?

As I was planting a few acorns collected on the Bramcote Ridge in Autumn, I mused, wouldn’t it be great if everyone grew and planted a few trees each year? I know plenty of people like me with gardens or allotments. Do you have a little outdoor space for a few pots to grow a few saplings? The basic idea is to get as many people as possible who will be willing to plant and look after 20 or more saplings in their gardens/allotments.

The Guardians will grow the tree saplings from seed or cuttings, look after them for approximately 2 years and then either give them back or plant them out themselves in the places designated by Broxtowe Borough Council. The aim is to give growers a vested interest in their trees, from seed to planting out, and into the future with watering and perhaps surveying. I would love for people to be able to plant their trees local to them so they can watch them grow to maturity.

I wanted to start this project in Autumn 2021 with some organized forays into woodland areas to collect seeds, nuts and acorns. Broxtowe Borough Council were very supportive of the idea.

However, fate or Mother Nature had other plans. Apparently 2020 was a bumper year for acorns. The council were contacted by a couple who have a 180 year old oak in their garden. They had sacks and sacks of acorns and were trying to find a good home/use for them. We were put in touch and I couldn’t refuse. So this year we start with oaks.

I first did a little pilot survey with members of a local nature reserve ‘Friends of’ group and some friends. After a very positive response to the idea I decided to go ahead. I already have over a hundred growers and around 2000 acorns distributed. But I still have a lot more if you have space and the inclination. All it takes are some pots, some earth and water to keep them damp. I’ve been storing the acorns in damp leaf mulch and they are sprouting nicely, they just need foster homes. They really are no trouble.

In future years the project will expand to include birch, hazel, holly, hawthorn, black poplar, alder, ash, aspen, beech, wild cherry, bird cherry, crab apple, field maple, juniper, lime, poplar, scots pine, rowan, yew, white beam, willow, wych and elm, basically any native species bar a few.

Since this venture began, I have made contact with a lot of people and one of the nicest surprises has been to find many people who already grow trees or rescue them from their lawnmowers and flower beds. I was happy to be able to help some of these people who had large saplings to find a permanent home for them in a place designated by the council. So the project has already had its first planting out session too.

What I would also love to see in the future is people participating in tree surveys. Check out the Treezilla.org site. By surveying an urban tree or two we can contribute to a Nationwide database. The data collected will help future town planners with their tree planting choices, the aim is to put a value on each tree in terms of carbon capture, diversity and pleasure.

Could you be a tree guardian?

Please contact Helene hlaanest@yahoo.com or 07852 818178/0115 8775304.

Canopy 2050 website and email to come soon.

Dr JN

beeston, Community, Nature, Trees of Beeston

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