Studies show that trees absorb large amounts of potentially poisonous atmospheric gases from the environment. Trees are 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 worked with the Civic Society and the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk. The aim is to promote the increase in tree planting for each new building development. The more trees – in the right places – the better.
During the Out of the Wood exhibition there were two events to talk about trees. The first was a party, a tour round the gallery and talks by the artists. We gathered tree stories for the Woodland Trust’s Tree charter campaign https://treecharter.uk/. The second event was an evening of talks and discussion about trees in the town. We aimed it at professionals in the field, developers, people responsible for planning the environment and tree planting.
A new tree strategy
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 .
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 began a new mission to protect trees. Their brilliant idea was to start this by commemorating the original forest charter 800 years before, in 1217. They gathered 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
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 paying the rest. We hope this is the beginning of continuing relationships between organisations with common interests in improving the environment.
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. We owe this summary to George Ishmael, former landscape officer for Norwich and Richard Morrish of the local Civic Society. Trees must become an increasingly essential aspect of urban design as hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters become the norm.
The Woodland Trust is one of a number of organisations who are promoting the benefits of tree planting in towns.
Trees for cities has also provided a great guide to the benefits of urban trees and campaigns for more tree planting.
Trees are incredibly beneficial in urban areas.
They provide a really important refuge for birds, especially in towns. The starlings are getting ready to roost here in this isolated tree. It is 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 equate to millions of pounds of savings to health budgets, pollution control and carbon management. The New Economics Foundation made a heritage led study for Norwich. They found that an investment in tree planting of £500,000 would lead to an economic benefit of £17 million. This is a staggering ratio of 1:34.
Right tree: right place
The rustling of leaves in the breeze, dappled shade. Movement of branches in sun and wind. The chirping of birds as they perch and nest. These are some of the pleasures of trees. They are all the more precious in an urban environment, where they provide tranquility and softness.
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. It is an important historic building, home of the King’s Lynn Preservation Society and used for 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.
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. Here 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.
Join the tree campaign
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 fundraising Tea for Trees event. We collaborated with the King’s Lynn Civic Society and the Borough Council to raise money for more street trees. In the first year, we awarded 15 donor certificates.
Trees for the town
We want to identify opportunities for trees in new developments throughout the town. They need to be placed at important gateways and roads into the town. Trees can improve 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?
Do you 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?
Would you help to 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