Sunday, 15 December 2019

Trees against climate change

Trees against climate change

A TOTAL of 130 young trees was planted at a Henley beauty spot as part of a drive to reduce the town’s carbon footprint.

More than 50 volunteers, including members of environmental campaign group Greener Henley and the 1st Henley cubs and scouts, completed the work at Tilebarn Wood on Sunday morning in just two hours.

The trees, a mix of oak, beech, silver birch and hornbeam, were provided by the Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

Greener Henley, formerly known as Henley in Transition, organised the event as it leases the land from Sue Ryder and planted 224 trees there in 2011.

Patrick Fleming, who is secretary of the group and a member of the town council’s climate emergency working group, said: “It was absolutely brilliant and I was overwhelmed by the contribution from the cubs and scouts.

“It’s that generation, wanting them to get involved in understanding that nature plays a part.

“The other thing we did was clear up all the plastic debris and old tree guards and cable ties. The danger is that could end up getting into the soil. The place looks really smart now.”

He wants to see 500,000 trees planted in Henley and the surrounding parishes in order to help the town become carbon neutral by 2030.

Mr Fleming said: “This is giving people a positive idea that they can make a change — even if it’s a minute change it’s still significant. That’s the message we want to get across.”

Assistant cub scout leader Joolz Fletcher said: “We’re always trying to educate the cubs about the environment and doing community projects.

“Some of our cubs are working towards their silver award and it ticks off their world, environment and community badge.

“They loved it and it’s important because it’s their future.”

Cub William Jewell, eight, said: “I really wanted to act because all these fossil fuels are burning and there’s so much CO2 in the world. I really don’t want to have a polluted world.”

Harry Boumphrey, 11, said: “I decided to do this and help the environment. I am quite concerned probably because politicians are focused on other things and not focused on things that really matter.”

His brother Jack, nine, added: “I decided to come along because I think it’s great to plant trees and help make the environment a better place for us.”

Their mother Lillie, a member of Greener Henley, said: “I got involved because a couple of months ago I went along to one of the Greener Henley carbon workshops on how we can reduce our carbon footprint.

“It was great but I was shocked there were only 10 people there.

“The UK has so many fewer trees than the rest of Europe — about 13 per cent. There’s a national drive to almost double our tree coverage to almost 25 per cent and in order to do that we all must plant more trees, whether it’s in our garden or community spaces like this.

“To offset just 10 per cent of the carbon emissions from the broader Henley area we need to plant in the region of half a million trees. It’s a really proactive thing that we all can do.” Meanwhile, about 40 saplings were given away to residents on Saturday.

The town council and Greener Henley have teamed up with the Woodland Trust to provide up to 12,400 trees, the equivalent of two being planted in the garden of every household in the town.

The first batch of saplings, including wild cherry, crab apple, silver birch, hazel and rowan, were available from a stall in Market Place.

Max and Sarah McKean, from Shiplake, took home a silver birch to plant in their back garden.

Mrs McKean said: “We read about it in the Henley Standard and thought ‘we must come along’.

“It’s an easy opportunity to actually do something about putting more trees around the town and the world in general.

“Virtually everybody we know is quite aware and quite keen to help to make the world better for our children and grandchildren.”

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