The Leaves on the Trees

The leaves on the London trees have nearly all fallen away. Some years they cling tight until Christmas, when winter really sets in, but this year they are falling early and one cold morning will see them all lose their hold on the branches.

This year our ash trees are threatened by a fungus, and people are urged to burn the dead ash leaves in order to prevent the spread of the disease. We shall lose many ash trees over the coming years, perhaps on the scale that we lost elm trees in my youth. That being so we have to decide what trees should replace the ash when we replant.

Perhaps we should revert to the oak, that traditional tree of England and more than any other tree it was the tree upon which we founded our wealth. It built boats and cathedrals and simple homes. It will resist climate change for its lifetime and if we plant enough may well slow down the rate of climate change. Oak takes many years to grow, but we plant trees for our descendants, not for ourselves, and so the loss of our ash inheritance might provide a future inheritance of oak.


Do you remember the ash trees of yesteryear?

A few generations ago a feature of England was its great elm trees; they provided wood for people’s furniture, even for coffins, shelter for animals and beauty in the countryside, but Dutch Elm disease turned groves of elm into very rare things. memories reside in ash; you look up to the tree that looks down on you. Today in Britain we face losing or decimating another one of our traditional species of tree – the Ash tree. Continue reading

Tree Hugging

Timber is big business. In all places in the world where trees grow humanity has cropped the trees for fuel, for shelter for furniture and for the luxuries of life. When humanity was species that was few in number tree cutting had little effect, although some think that many of the great deserts of the world have been created or expanded by whole tree cutting. In my lifetime the extent of trees has shrunk on the map of the world, particularly in the Amazon basin and in equatorial Africa. Continue reading

Planting a tree for the future

The United Kingdom government has announced a new tree planting programme. It is not large, as tree planting programmes go, but it is specifically targeted and very welcome. Over the next four years a million trees will be planted in urban areas. Continue reading

The altruism of tree planting

There are plenty of trees in the part of London where I now live. I spent the first ten years of my life hardly ever seeing a tree, and when I did see trees they were stout huge park trees in Victoria Park. I wondered how children could ever climb them, as they always seemed to climb them in the children’s stories I read, but those stories also told of grass which I rarely saw. I never played a game of football on grass until I was eleven years old. Continue reading

Climate change and evolution

There have been three more snippets of news recently which add to our knowledge of actual climate change, but not directly necessarily to why the climate is changing so rapidly. Continue reading

Why are trees dying more quickly?

trees-in-winterIt seems that trees, those great stores of carbon, are not living as long as they used to live, and the climate changes seem to be making it more difficult for some trees to keep on living in some regions. Continue reading

The woodlands that are under threat and why this is important

England was once virtually covered in trees, mainly hardwood trees like the oak and the elm. There were once large forests, like that at Sherwood, where Robin Hood became famous, that were almost impenetrable. Now Sherwood is a sad series of truncated pieces of woodland. The mighty oaks were felled to build a navies, and to make way for the intrusion of humans who now inhabit cities and towns and farms where once were trees. There are still woodlands in England which provide us with biodiversity and the benefits of trees and forests, which I have written about quite a lot in recent posts. Continue reading

The way in which trees degrade heat

As a planet we are running out of trees. Many people regard trees as a sustainable resource, because having cut one down you can grow another tree, or several trees to replace it. This, of course is true, but having cut down trees and used them, even if you replace the old trees with new growth there is one thing that you lose when the old forests go, and that cannot be readily replace – the way in which trees degrade heat. Continue reading

Biofuels in Brazil and the environmental cost of them

In Brazil people are talking about biofuels.  Biofuels were hailed as the solution to fossil fuel carbon emissions, rather like biomass is in the United Kingdom today. Brazil produces large quantities of biofuel, mainly from sugar cane, which is turned into ethanol. This is pumped from what used to be petrol pumps and propels transport all over Brazil. 

Of course there is no free lunch in energy, and the complexities of life on earth means that the biofuel panacea turned into a biofuel poison. Continue reading