A 15 meter (50 foot) tree in leaf has a surface area of about 200 hectares, the size of Monaco! It will produce between 15-30kg of oxygen a year. A wooded area of 50 m² reduces temperatures by 3-5 C. Also, leaf movement releases negative ions, which are supposed to have beneficial effects on health and mood.

I really like trees. I didn’t realise how much until I found myself living in Iraq for 6 months. While the countryside there has its own kind of beauty, it was largely treeless, which made it feel barren and lifeless. I know this wasn’t the case as I was able to see gorgeously coloured bee-eaters perching on fences, watch swallows swoop and dive after insects, and wave at shepards herding tending their flocks.

One of the first things I did on my return to the UK was to sit in a small woodland near my folks place. Not any great forest miles from civilization, just a couple of acres next to a housing estate. Sitting on a stump, in the dark green filtered light that gives broadleaf woodland a subaquatic quality, I listened to the rustliing of countless leaves in the soft breeze.

Recently I visited a woodland close to where I live. It’s a mixed broadleaf forest of mainly hornbeam, birch and sweet chestnut with a few oaks dotted around. It’s a managed woodland, with areas being regularly coppiced. Some people don’t like the idea of cutting down trees, but coppicing not only promotes new undergrowth, but it can extend the life of the coppiced trees, almost indefinitely. Coppicing doesn’t kill the tree, but forces it to send up new shoots. Another advantage is that it gives the woodland a completely different feeling. One very much connected to Britain’s ancient heritage. There aren’t any areas of true wilderness left in the UK, so a woodland being used as it could have been thousands of years ago feels very natural in its own right. The coppiced wood is used to make charcoal, again, a practice that has a long history here in the UK. So seeing piles of wood drying near the charcoal kiln only added to the atmosphere of the wood for me.

Now that spring is starting to creep into the air, I suggest you find a wooded area close to where you live and just sit and listen to the rustling of the leaves.

Are there any particular environments that particularly resonate with you? If there are, feel free to share what it is about them that you like in the comments section below.

 

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