woodland in Craiglockart Dell, by Water of Leith
I love walking in the woods and I am very aware of how important trees are! They offer homes for wildlife and brighten up our city streets. Woodlands are vital habitats for a range of species and help to reduce the risk of flooding and lower the local temperature, compared to nearby urban areas. Through photosynthesis they remove carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen. It has been shown through several studies recently that walking in the woods is a great way to relax and can have positive impact on mental health.
For all these reasons, trees matter! But it is clear that not everyone agrees. The city of Sheffield in England has recently seen almost wholesale removal of its street trees, which has lead to plenty of protests.
Very often decisions about trees and woodland are made at a local level and it seems like only yesterday we were writing to our local election candidates asking their opinions on trees and woodlands. But many decisions that affect the planning process are made at a national level and we need our politicians at Westminster to stand up for woodlands and the general environment. The Woodland Trust suggests that these are some of the questions you may want to ask your candidates:
Do they support a register of ancient woodland and ancient trees to help to identify and protect these vital habitats?
Are they committed to the European Habitats and Birds Directives to be enshrined in UK law once we have left the EU? These directives have proven to be very useful (though not perfect) in safeguarding many of our most precious wildlife sites.
Will they put woodlands and trees at the centre of land use planning?
Will they champion the health and wellbeing benefits of woodlands?
Will they work to increase tree planting rates to increase tree cover in the UK, which is one of the least wooded countries in Europe?
Will they make the most of the benefits trees and woodlands can bring? These benefits include reducing the risk of flooding and improving air quality.
You can join the Woodland Trust campaign here to contact your General Election candidates.
The Woodland Trust General Election campaign pdf is here.
The Woodland Trust priorities for the UK 2017 General Election can be downloaded here.
I also recently blogged about general environmental issues for the forthcoming UK General Election.
I am a volunteer campaigner for the Woodland Trust and tomorrow will be speaking at and leading a guided walk at their Edinburgh Volunteering Gathering, an event for everyone who volunteers or would like to volunteer for the trust. There may still be time to book, you can find out more here.