Monday, 25 February 2008

Trees as Gifts


Apparently, it was once popular in the United States to commemorate the birth of a child by planting a tree. It was a tradition derived from the Native Americans who believed that as the child grew the tree would also grow, representing maturity and responsibility. They also believed that as trees live for many years, a tree for a baby would ensure the child a long, healthy life.

That was many moons ago though and these days, as we all know, it’s popular in just about any Western culture to spend as much money as possible on something mass produced.

I’m not saying that baby blankets, little sleep suits, or even silver plated boxes in which to keep babies first tooth aren’t useful gifts but with the lack of trees in this country, planting a tree sounds like a very good idea to me, not only the celebrate babies birth but as birthday and Christmas gifts, too.

I once dedicated a tree in a newly planted forest to a friend’s grandchild for his first birthday. He had everything he needed and there was no point buying more toys or clothes. A tree, however, will help make the air that he breathes much cleaner and become home to a plethora of creatures that are otherwise struggling to find new habitats.

Having spent 18 years in a country where 37% of the surface area is forest, most of that in the lowlands, I miss the forests more than I can say. Here in England we have just 340,000 hectares of forest and 80% of those are less than 20 hectares in size. When you think that Hyde Park’s size is 234 hectares, you can understand just how small most of our forests are. Miniscule! And London comprises 160,000 hectares so we're talking total forest area that's just over twice the size of London.

During the post-war period and right up until the mid 70s it was popular for gardeners to fell large trees that grew in their gardens to make way for manicured lawns and perfectly planted flower beds. I can remember my granddad doing just that and being sad that the squirrels and birds would no longer have somewhere to live out there. Luckily, that trend has turned and more gardeners are planting trees, albeit smaller, more manageable trees, but there’s still no doubt that we need more trees!

DD2 having fun in a tree

If you’d like to give a tree as a gift the following sites can help:

  • The Carbon Neutral Company - tree dedication in a choice of forests starts at just £10.

  • Treegifts – a tree and baby rattle sent directly to the recipient’s home for planting. Best make sure they have room for it first!

  • Getting Personal – trees are planted where they’re needed most, such as along hedgerows, in woodlands and nature reserves. £19.95.

  • The Woodland Trust – help save ancient forests or create new areas of broadleaf woodland. £10.00.

I’d love my great-grandchildren to be able to grow up with woodland close by. A few hours spent walking in the woods is the best de-stresser I know about - how wonderful to be close to nature! In fact, from now on, every time I fly I'm going to buy at least one tree to help offset my footprint. I don't fly often and they're usually short haul flights to Norway which apparently produce 0.3 tonnes of carbon which can be offset by half a tree. I guess that means buying a tree is a good thing. If I were flying to Hong Kong I'd need just over two trees to be carbon neutral. I'm not really sure how this carbon neutral lark works though; I must look it up.

Sharon J xx

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now. - Chinese proverb


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Richard said...

The National Forest has a gift planting scheme. The National Forest is scheme to create 200 square miles of linked forestry across central England - drivers going up the M1 around Leicester may have seen the signs. The gift scheme can be viewed here:

National Forest

Sharon J said...

Thanks for that, Richard. I've taken a look and it does seem like a very worthwhile project.