So what will you be doing this weekend? Amongst spending time with friends and family, why not consider an act to save the planet? After the chaos of “Black” Friday, why not contemplate the chance to do something more “green”?
This week marks National Tree Week in the UK, when there will be projects working across the UK to plant trees. As the final autumn leaves fall and the temperature drops, now is a great time to plant trees here in the UK. It’s a great opportunity to take action to help tackle climate change and be part of a global movement to restore forests.
Trees are of critical importance in our efforts to help regulate the climate. The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set out the opportunity and the challenge of holding global climate change to 1.5 degrees. This week, WWF-UK published its own analysis setting out how the UK can deliver on its commitment to that target, which is going to require sustained and comprehensive efforts. It was unsurprising to the analysis demonstrating see a strong role for forests – by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, tree planting will be critical to avoid dangerous climate change. And at the same time, expanding forests offer a huge range of other benefits for people and the wildlife we love.
The UK has just 13% forest cover at present, a target that many organisations are working to increase. More trees in the right places can contribute to our efforts tackle climate change, create more habitat for birds and animals, help regulate our water supplies, and establish green spaces that are valuable for our mental health. Who wouldn’t want to get involved?
But the value of tree planting goes far beyond the UK. Two months ago I was lucky enough to join the team working on Trillion Trees – an ambitious global collaboration founded on the vision of a world where forests are no longer shrinking, but expanding. We work to protect and conserve forests from the Amazon to Zanzibar, aiming to halt deforestation and ensure that forests are well managed and protected. At the same time, we are working with restoration efforts that can benefit people and nature – bringing back forests that have been damaged or lost.
In Tanzania, Trillion Trees has supported tree planting efforts in forest reserves close to Dar Es Salaam – with WWF and the Tanzania Forest Service planting over 49,000 seedlings to help restore these precious sites, and now creating new opportunities for local and overseas visitors to enjoy them. In Kenya, Trillion Trees will build on the “Keep Kenya Breathing” campaign launched in March by WWF and the government, to work with community associations on ambitious targets to increase forest cover across Kenya. This initiative will help Kenya adjust to a changing climate, while protecting freshwater supplies and agricultural land that the population relies on, and ensuring a secure environment for Kenya’s magnificent wildlife.
So whether you are able to join an event and plant a tree in the UK, or prefer to join WWF and our work to plant trees around the world, I hope you’ll find a way to celebrate National Tree Week. I know I will.