Woodland - The benefits of planting trees
- If you’re a private landowner, then planting trees can have a host of economic benefits
- Trees play a major role in preventing soil erosion
- One mature oak tree can support up to 500 different species of UK wildlife
The UK is currently one of Europe’s least wooded countries, and the need to change that has become a hot topic in recent years. Trees are a key tool in the fight against climate change, as well as a vital habitat for thousands of wildlife species.
But that’s not all trees can do — they can also keep us healthy, strengthen the agriculture industry, and even boost the economy. In this article, we’ll take you through some of the best reasons to consider planting trees on your land.
When talking through the reasons to plant trees, there’s only one place to start — climate change. As a tree grows, it takes in carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere in a process known as carbon sequestration. And the carbon isn’t only absorbed. It stays locked in the trees whether they’re left standing or are felled for timber.
The entire woodland ecosystem contributes to this carbon storage, including leaves, roots, dead wood and the soil itself. According to the Woodland Trust, one hectare of young wood can store more than 400 tonnes of carbon — about the same as that produced by a single flight from London to Istanbul.
But storing carbon isn’t the only way woodlands can help the environment. Trees play a major role in preventing soil erosion, as their roots help water to drain properly into the ground. This in turn stops pollutants from being washed into water sources and reduces flood risks. In fact, the value of UK trees as flood protection has been estimated at £6.5 billion.
In the UK, ancient woodland supports more species than any other land habitat. But the decrease in woodland cover means one in ten of those species are at risk of extinction. This is bad news for us as well, as those species include pollinating birds and insects that are essential to agriculture.
The good news is a little can go a long way to improving things here. One mature oak tree can support up to 500 different species of UK wildlife, so you don’t have to plant an entire forest to do your bit for biodiversity.
If you’re a private landowner, then planting trees can have a host of economic benefits.
First, harvesting your own woodfuel timber can help keep your heating costs down while also reducing your carbon footprint.
Second, you can also grow timber to sell to the construction industry. The demand for quality timber for construction has increased in recent years, as its manufacture produces far fewer carbon emissions than materials like steel or concrete.
Planting trees can also benefit property developers. As well as offsetting some of the carbon emissions from the development, it’s well-known that trees and woodland can lift the market value of nearby residential properties. Similarly, green spaces have been seen to attract trade and investment to towns and business districts.
An asset for farmland
If you’re a farmer, giving up field space and grazing land to plant trees might seem counter-intuitive. But in fact, cultivating trees has been shown to have substantial benefits for agricultural land.
For starters, the work they do in preventing soil erosion will pay dividends by reducing flood risk to fields, and creating better quality soil for crops. A well-placed belt of trees can also protect crops as a windbreak.
Trees on grazing land can shelter livestock in extreme weather since they provide both shade from the sun and a barrier to cold winds. For example, studies have shown that shelter from trees can help reduce lamb deaths from hypothermia and exposure by up to 30%.
Having trees on site can also be a great resource, providing you with a handy supply of timber for fencing, fuel, and wood chip for animal bedding.
Health and wellbeing
Woodlands also have a lot to offer in terms of keeping us healthy. Studies have shown that being surrounded by trees even for a short time can trigger a drop in blood pressure and heart rate, reducing anxiety, stress and mental fatigue. In Japan this phenomenon is embraced through the practice of shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing”.
Trees are also beneficial for physical health, too. Woodlands can of course be great places for encouraging exercise and fresh air. But perhaps more importantly, trees remove harmful pollutants like ammonia and carbon monoxide from the air, which greatly improves air quality.
What’s more, woodlands also provide excellent places for children to play, experience the outdoors, and learn about nature through Forest Schools.
From helping in the battle against climate change, to protecting biodiversity, to creating a healthier environment to live in, planting trees has a huge range of benefits. Addland makes it easy to find, research, buy or sell land, so if you’re looking to buy woodland or land for planting, simply search our site.