To celebrate St Valentine’s Day, Forestry Commission England has revealed their top 10 reasons why they love trees, along with the top 10 most romantic walks from across the public forest estate.
The poet Joyce Kilmer once wrote “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree…” and the Forestry Commission England find it hard to disagree.
Trees mean something to everyone; and with the myths, fairy tales, and history that surrounds them, the Forestry Commission believes it makes woods and forests some of the most romantic places on earth.
Below are the ten favourite reasons to love trees!
10. Around 1,500 wildlife species are thought to rely on a single English oak tree, for breeding, feeding, resting, roosting, shelter and safety.
9. When lost, it is possible to use trees to assist you in navigation. In northern temperate climates, moss will grow on the northern side of the tree trunk, where it is shadier. Failing that, if you find the stump of a tree that has been cut down, you can observe the rings of the tree to discover which direction north is. In the northern hemisphere, the rings of growth in a tree trunk are slightly thicker on the southern side, which receives more light. The converse is true in the southern hemisphere.
8. In WW1 soldiers used to leave love notes on trees for their wives and girlfriends that included times, dates, thoughts and feelings. Love messages can still be found on trees today and are known as ‘arboglyphs’. Obviously, the Forestry Commission don’t advocate the damaging of trees in this way, but for historic reference they can be interesting finds.
7. Trees are among the world’s oldest living things – Ancient trees have borne witness to favourite love stories, have seen the rise and fall of civilisations and have survived climates; they are nature’s true survivor.
6. People love trees as much as they do – In Melbourne, the city council devised an urban forest map which gave each tree an individual number so residents could email them to report damaged branches. What they didn’t expect to happen was the trees themselves to receive personal emails of admiration and expressions of love!
5. The estimated value to the economy of the ecosystem service provided by trees and woodland wildlife in the UK is £680 million.
4. Trees filter and clean the air around us. By absorbing airborne pollution they boost oxygen levels. A single tree will produce enough oxygen for a family of four every single day.
3. Some trees can “talk” to each other. When willows are attacked by webworms and caterpillars, they emit a chemical that alerts nearby willow of the danger. The neighbouring trees then respond by pumping more tannin into their leaves making it difficult for the insects to digest the leaves.
2. Trees are our natural health service – So strong is the connection between trees and our health and well-being that NHS trusts are being advised to see trees in the grounds of hospitals as a fundamentally important part of creating a positive healing environment for patients.
1. In Japan the health benefit of spending time in amongst the trees in the forests is so treasured that it has its own word, shinrinyoku, which literally means ‘forest bathing’.