By John Barling, director of SENS, author, and retired teacher; and Terry Dyck, director of SENS
Each year, an area of forest equivalent to the size of Belgium is clear-cut. Eighty-five percent of the world’s old growth forests have already been cut down.
This is all rather depressing; however, much can be done to reverse the situation. We can create a better world for our children and grandchildren by helping to reverse global warming through tree planting projects.
Trees provide a myriad of benefits. Through photosynthesis, they absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Trees are part of wildlife habitats and some trees provide food and medicine. They also moderate climate change, reduce wind, cool the earth, increase humidity, and provide cool shade during hot weather.
Tree roots stabilize soil, reducing soil erosion and limiting landslides and flooding. Their decomposing leaves help to build soil. They can also absorb pollutants, thus enhancing air quality, and they are aesthetically beautiful.
The Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS) in Vernon has been promoting tree planting projects in North Okanagan schools for the past 35 years. They are now hoping schools throughout BC will join in the tree planting project.
Science magazine reports that there is adequate land around the world to increase forested areas by a third. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology recommends forest restoration as the best approach for individuals to reduce the threat of global warming. Major reforestation could erase approximately 100 years worth of carbon emissions.
We invite you to join the SENS initiative as an individual, with friends, or as a class, and plant as many trees as you can.
Ideas to get the project underway
- Create a team of interested, enthusiastic students to work on this project.
- Source sponsorship from businesses in your area.
- Work with a non-profit organization.
- Contact reforestation companies in your location for tree donations.
- See if any local nurseries will donate some trees.
- Choose trees that will thrive in your area e.g., hybrid poplar, weeping willow, aspen, red maple (all are fast-growing trees), or a variety of coniferous species.
- Consider a greening of the school grounds project.
Preparing each tree planting site
- Plan tree planting for spring or fall.
- Remove or turn over vegetation that may compete with the seedling being planted.
- Dig a hole at least 15 centimeters (6 inches) wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots.
- Gently compress the soil around the tree.
- Larger trees may need a stick and rubber band for support.
- Water each tree and place mulch around the tree to reduce water loss.
- A collar placed around the developing trunk of the tree will protect it from being damaged by critters.
A very good manual that lists ways to make your tree planting successful is available online at www.treeproject.org.au/manual/grower-manual.htm.