It’s not even out of February and I’ve achieved my goal of planting a tree in 2015. Even my daughter has planted a few. It was much easier than expected, and there were biscuits on the way.
On a cold Saturday morning, we arrived at the car park for a joint event put on by The Woodland Trust (a charity) and The National Forest (a company partly funded by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). We were there just in time to be interviewed by BBC Radio Leicester alongside a bunch of other nice folk who turned out to be the CEO of the National Forest and some of the big wigs from the Woodland Trust.
I was thrilled to be able to quiz them all on how to get trees planted, and my own little aim of buying a bit of land and filling it with trees seemed one step closer. It was also dwarfed by the realization that the National Forest has planted 8 million trees in the last 25 years, and that a commercial tree planter averages about four trees a minute on the job. It made me think about the scale of my ambition and also the selfish needs to be able to visit the trees again in years to come.
Both organizations have schemes to help you get trees in the ground – you can also dedicate trees or pieces of woodland to people, and they provide materials and skills for community groups and schools. We talked a little about how some of the larger tracts of land have been sucked up, how trees are literally changing the landscape of towns famous for pits and open cast mines. My dreams of planting a small urban forest might be supported by both groups, and the location of The National Forest was revealed to me – not just a sign on the M1, but now tangibly linked to a map:
Another challenge to replace the void in my life after officially becoming a Tough Guy veteran is the National Forest Way – a 75 mile long stretch of path within the forest itself. A great warm up for the Parish Walk on the Isle of Man – only without so many hills. I hope it can be done in a (very long) day, and I plan on finding out first hand, and possibly second leg.
My daughter and I planted maybe a dozen trees – oak, alder and willow, and I hope that we get to see them age gracefully at the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood. It’s truly an amazing wood – over 400 acres filled with trees, trails and wildlife. I’m going to go back for some bird watching, and to use the nifty camera tripod – it’s a pillar of stone which you can use each time to take a photo and make your own time lapse photography series documenting both you and the landscape aging. The place in which the photo subject stands says “Legacy Portrait Position”, and the first word sums it all up for me – legacy. That’s why I want to plant trees, that’s why I want to take my family with me to do it.
Maybe the most effective way for me isn’t just to plant a tree and convince a few others to do so. Maybe I need 8 million trees under my belt and to join forces with a few woody organizations. Food for thought.