Sunday, 9 November 2008

Autumn leaves and trying to still love trees

I've been putting off collecting the fallen leaves from our enormous sycamore tree, hawthornes, beech hedges, and the millions of vicious needles from the black pines in our garden. Had to make a start yesterday as the grass had disappeared under this Autumn carpet of rotting brown and yellowness.

This year I invested in a Powerbase Garden Vacuum in a recent Homebase sale, naively thinking this would bring an end to the backbreaking monotony that is picking up leaves. For the pine needles and sycamore leaves, this gadget is pants and constantly gets jammed.

So it was back to low tech with a rake and garden sacks and now armed with my toddler son. We had a great time throwing the leaves about, pretending to hibernate in them and doing just about anything but pick them up! The job took longer but was good fun and I'm starting to like trees again, despite all this effort. At least it is only once a year.

I read about resarch that the Woodland Trust has done that suggests that Britain’s ancient woodland is being felled at a faster rate than the Amazonian rainforest. Scary stuff.

According to the Trust, nearly half of all the woods in the UK over 400 years old have been lost in the past 80 years. A further 600 ancient woods are threatened by new roads, electricity pylons, housing and airport expansion.

The Woodland Trust’s Campaigns Director pointed out that England’s ancient woodland, i.e. woodland designated as being over 400 years old, is the equivalent of rainforest and is irreplaceable. The rate of loss of this woodland in the UK is now one of the fastest in the world. The Trust is appealing to the Government for better protection of the woods that remain.

So as you gather up the leaves from your garden and moan about your backache, just remember that our woodland is under threat and be thankful for any trees you may have near you or in your garden.

Why not become a Woodwatcher and support the Woodland Trust in protecting our ancient woodland before its too late? You can read more on the Woodland Trust's blog.

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