Trees and environment

Studies show that trees absorb large amounts of potentially poisonous atmospheric gases from the environment. Trees have been described as the lungs of the earth. They release oxygen into the atmosphere, replacing that which is lost through the burning of fossil fuels. They also filter dust from the air – greatly enhancing the air we breathe in our towns and cities.

Out of the Wood

GroundWork has promoted this as a project for King’s Lynn since its ‘Out of the Wood’ exhibition in 2016. The Gallery is working with the Civic Society and the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk to confirm a new tree strategy, and to promote more tree planting. The aim is to have a regular succession of new trees in place and also to promote the increase in tree planting for each new building development. 

During the Out of the Wood exhibition there were two events to talk about trees. The first was a party, tour round the gallery and talks by the artists and a chance to gather tree stories for the Woodland Trust’s Tree charter campaign https://treecharter.uk/. The second was an evening of talks and discussion about trees in the town, aiming at professionals in the field, developers, people responsible for planning the environment and tree planting in the town of King’s Lynn. At the event we resolved to work together some more and this has now led to further thinking and planning. One of the interim results has been the ongoing campaign outlined here, and the borough has established a tree strategy .

https://democracy.west-norfolk.gov.uk/documents/s15559/BCKLWN%20Draft%20Tree%20and%20Woodland%20Strategy%20062017.pdf

Trees are vulnerable. Within recent memory, forests in public ownership in the UK were threatened by a government keen to sell them off. This is one reason why the Woodland Trust commemorated the original forest charter of 1217 with a new mission to protect trees, gathering support and stories towards a new charter for trees, woods and people by November 2017. GroundWork Gallery was one of more than a hundred national Charter Champions for this campaign.   www.woodlandtrust.org.uk

Waiting for guest at the inaugural Tea for Trees event

The Borough Council of West Norfolk and King’s Lynn agreed to plant 10 trees in the autumn of 2018! We joined with the Civic Society to raise the money to pay towards them (the Council pais the bulk of the cost). We hope this is the beginning of a very fruitful new initiative and continuing relationships between local organisations with a common interest in improving the environment of the town – and all towns.

Alder and Plane trees in the foreground and Birch trees in the background in the Borough Council’s nursery compound, waiting to be planted in their permanent sites, eg. Kettlewell Lane and Austin Street. Picture Richard Fisher BCKLWN.

Trees in the town

In order to plan and justify a future for trees in the town, here follows a summary of the benefits of trees, informed, among others by George Ishmael, former landscape officer for Norwich and Richard Morrish of the local Civic Society. Trees will become an increasingly essential aspect of urban design as hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters are predicted to become the norm.

The Woodland Trust is one of a number of organisations who are promoting the benefits and advantages of tree planting in towns. https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/mediafile/100083915/Trees-in-our-towns.pdf Trees for cities has also provided a great guide to the benefits of urban trees and campaigns for more tree planting. http://www.treesforcities.org/benefits-urban-trees/

The Woodland Trust is one of a number of organisations who are promoting the benefits and advantages of tree planting in towns. https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/mediafile/100083915/Trees-in-our-towns.pdf Trees for cities has also provided a great guide to the benefits of urban trees and campaigns for more tree planting. http://www.treesforcities.org/benefits-urban-trees/

Trees at the edge of the town park in King’s Lynn soften the edge of the one-way road carrying traffic around the inner ring road.

Shelter and shade, sitting under trees
Shelter and shade. Trees help to shade streets and buildings in summer and provide shelter from winds and eddies.

Trees are incredibly beneficial in urban areas.

Trees provide a really important refuge for birds, especially in towns. Listen to the starlings getting ready to roost here in this isolated tree, just such a great sound of nature thriving in a tiny green space.

Towns and cities can be 5-10 degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside. Trees provide shade and water vapour that cools hot streets and buildings.

The direct benefits of trees can be equated to millions of pounds worth of savings to health budgets, pollution control and carbon management schemes. A heritage-led regeneration study for Norwich by the New Economics Foundation found that an investment in tree planting of £500,000 would lead to an economic benefit of £17 million, a ratio of 1:34.

Trees in Norwich streets
A tree-lined street in London. All these trees are privately planted behind people’s garden walls yet they benefit the whole street-scape.

Improve the view. Trees screen unsightly views and can soften and enhance a street scene. They provide seasonal variety and colour.

Right tree: right place

The rustling of leaves in the breeze, the dappled shade and movement in sun and wind, the chirping of birds as they perch and nest – these are some of the pleasures of trees, all the more precious in an urban environment, otherwise dominated by buildings, traffic and crowds.Many studies show these are benefits conducive to human health as well as important for biodiversity. 

Right Tree – Right Place these trees have been spaced and clipped so that they enhance the architecture adding to the uniformity and beauty of the public space
As you see here, trees can be safely planted close to buildings, providing shade and greenery and anchoring the soil in fragile conditions.

Trees provide boundaries, shade, shelter and rich habitats for wildlife.Many studies show these are benefits conducive to human health as well as important for biodiversity. https://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/Health_Benefits_of_Street_Trees_29June2011.pdf/$file/Health_Benefits_of_Street_Trees_29June2011.pdf

This spectacular Judas Tree fills the courtyard of Thoresby College, one of the important historic buildings in King’s Lynn, home of the King’s Lynn Preservation Society and now used for celebrations, courses, meetings and events. The tree rises to the occasion being a landmark in its own right. Sadly the tree is dying now – it is tragic to watch it diminishing each year. https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2979166

The tree campaign continues…….

King’s Lynn is a fast-growing town, with many new developments planned. We need to plant new trees so that our children and grandchildren reap the benefits. We need to ensure that King’s Lynn is an attractive ‘green’ place to live and work in the future.

View of Kings Lynn showing almost no trees

The town of King’s Lynn is short of trees. Partly this is because of its history as a port. Many of the merchants, whose houses adjoined the river dug tunnels to their properties for ease of unloading goods. Under Tuesday Market Place there is a network of subterranean air raid shelters. So in these cases, tree roots would disturb their structures. However, we have also lost trees from the town centre – where denser development and the need for wider streets and parking areas have meant that trees have been forgotten. For all kinds of reasons, from their benefits for shade, drainage, health and beauty, more trees are necessary.  

You can join in with our campaign for more trees to be planted in the town. It began with the exhibition Out of the Wood at the end of 2016, involving some 10 artists and timed to coincide with the start of the Woodland Trust’s Tree Charter campaign. Since then, we have run an annual Tea for Trees event collaborating with the King’s Lynn Civic Society and the Borough Council to raise money for more street trees, and have awarded 15 donor certificates so far.

 Richard Fisher, Tree Officer for Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk and Rick Morrish representing the King’s Lynn Civic Society at our latest planning meeting for the next tree plantings for 2019.  https://democracy.west-norfolk.gov.uk/documents/s15559/BCKLWN%20Draft%20Tree%20and%20Woodland%20Strategy%20062017.pdf
Richard Fisher, Tree Officer for Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk and Rick Morrish representing the King’s Lynn Civic Society at our latest planning meeting for the next tree plantings for 2019.
https://democracy.west-norfolk.gov.uk/documents/s15559/BCKLWN%20Draft%20Tree%20and%20Woodland%20Strategy%20062017.pdf

Trees for the town

For King’s Lynn, our immediate goal is to plant trees within the town centre – but we also want to identify opportunities for trees in new developments throughout the town, at important gateways and roads into the town – and even the setting around the town as well. 

We are looking at opportunities for trees on both public and private land.

In particular, we would like to seek public/private partnerships where we might be able to share the cost of planting and maintaining a tree – or several trees!

Join the campaign

·      Do you have a space for a tree, or know of a space where a tree could grow and benefit the local setting?

·      Would you be willing to donate funds or assistance to get a tree planted or to help manage a tree in future?

King’s Lynn Civic Society have joined together with the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (BCKLWN) and Groundwork Art Gallery to start a new tree planting initiative in King’s Lynn.

Follow and join in on Twitter: groundworkkl/treesforthetown 

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