Episode 7 – 15 June

They are in our gardens, we drive past hundreds of them every day… Trees!  But do we ever really look at them? What makes them so special?  Well, trees are one of the longest living organisms on the planet – in fact a single Bristlecone pine in California, still growing by the way, is 4,789 years old! That’s ancient and incredibly special! They have a lot of functions….Trees keep our air supply clean, reduce noise pollution, improve water quality, help prevent erosion, provide food and building materials, create shade, and help make our landscapes look absolutely gorgeous.  I hunted around and I found these cool facts about our planet’s oldest citizens and living treasures…

  • Trees and shrubs can increase property value by up to 14%. If you think about property value with the economy , it’s not easy to sell your home these days…
  • Trees properly placed around buildings, and I’m spesifically thinking office buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30%, so you can actually save money as well….
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  • A mature tree removes almost 70 times more pollution than a newly planted tree.
  • Over the course its life, a single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide.

So think next time, think twice, before chopping down a tree just to make way for that perfect DSTV signal!

And this subject, trees, made me think about the claim that’s been made that Johannesburg is the The World’s Largest Man-Made Forest. I certainly believed it and I’ve wanted to do a 50|50 story about this for a very long time. But the team at AfricaCheck.org did some investigating and have now completely debunked this myth.  Alan Buff, from Johannesburg City Parks, told Africa Check that when the various municipalities were combined to form one “unicity” a tree census was done, and they counted  well over 10 million trees in the greater Johannesburg area.  However this did not make it a forest, he said. And, even if you use the looser term “urban forest” – meaning a densely-wooded urban area – Johannesburg is still probably “only one of the largest man-made urban forests in the world”.  The title of “The Biggest Urban Forest” has to go to ChinaRead more:

And a story about trees at risk in the UK that got me thinking…..The Woodland Trust has warned that pests and diseases such as “ash dieback” could threaten the majority of the 115,000 “veteran” and notable trees listed by the charity. The Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity. They care for over 1,000 woodland areas or sites covering over 20,000 hectares. Depending on their age, certain trees in each woodland get a qualification rating as either “notable” or “veteran” or most precious – “ancient” and it’s described as the natural equivalent of listed buildings, and these “ancient” trees have stood for hundreds of years, watching over historic events and playing a role in folklore and culture. So they are really part of the people living there!  While I found this news disturbing, it made me think about how lucky we are in South Africa. We still have large tracts of land set aside for conservation – think of all our National Parks  – and we have kilometers and kilometers of undeveloped space, still rich in old growth forest. So I really think it’s important that we learn from the UK and make sure we don’t transform every last centimeter of our land into farms or urban areas, and then we don’t have to be in the sad position of having to individually count every last beautiful, ancient tree! Read more:

And then a guy who certainly noticed a tree… and he used a Smartphone for his work – don’t let anyone tell you modern technology and conservation don’t mix! I know there is always this big debate about technology and conservation and that we should keep them separate but after reading about this guy and his phone I certainly think they mix pretty well! The result: That Tree: an iPhone photo journal – in pictures                   Read full story:

Do you have an interest in trees? Have you had a special relationship with a tree?  Would love to hear from you! 

And remember, take care of the Earth, and she will take care of you.