Trees for Life
A recent Royal Society of Biology (RSB) poll for the UK’s favourite tree saw the Horse Chestnut coming out top. It beat 14 other trees. It’s thought that affection for conkers may have swayed the vote.
The result was particularly pleasing for the Civic Society. It was only last year it funded a special interpretation panel for the Verdun tree, itself a Horse Chestnut, grown from a conker taken from the last tree left standing on the Verdun battlefield of 1916. You can see both tree and panel near the entrance to the Vintry Garden in Waxhouse Gate Passage.
This poll reminds us, in St Albans, with a growing air pollution problem, of the importance of trees, both in private gardens and along our streets. Dr. Laura Bellingan of the RSB explained: ‘Trees are a valuable part of our culture and economy as well as the environment. They provide us with clean air, building materials, food and fuel, flood management; they are home to a wide range of wildlife . . . and they are beautiful.’ We would also add that they are known to enhance our sense of well being and improve mental health as well as providing cooling shade and adding to the look of our streetscape.
Take St Peter’s Street. Imagine it without those 36 London Plane Trees. Thirty three were planted back in 1999 – 2003 through the efforts of the Civic Society as part of its Tree Sponsorship Campaign in partnership with the local Council. This raised nearly £10,000. Today it would be referred to as crowdfunding coming from sponsors to create the scene you see today.
The London Planes certainly know how to do their job in our busy city centre. They not only work away removing bad air through their leaves but also through their bark. This they shed, enabling them to breathe better – and us! The County Council is now the custodian of street trees. We wonder if it appreciates what has been created and the imminent need for careful pruning and a replacement strategy. We seek assurances.
There is a special Tree Book for Remembrance organized by the Society with an optional free entry for each sponsored tree. It is an excellent way to remember a loved one, celebrate an anniversary or birthday. It is on display outside the Council Chamber. St Albans needs its trees and the trees need you.