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It’s National Tree Week!

The 25th of November to the 3rd of December 2023 is National Tree Week: the UK’s largest annual tree celebration dedicated to the significance of trees and their pivotal role in our environment!

This week typically focuses on events, activities, and tree planting initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the importance of trees and encouraging individuals, communities, and organisations to contribute to the preservation and growth of our woodland habitats.

An important part of river conservation, often highlighted during National Tree Week is riparian planting. Riparian zones refer to the areas of land adjacent to rivers, streams, lakes, or other water bodies. These zones are crucial habitats that serve numerous ecological functions, including erosion control, water quality maintenance, wildlife habitat provision, and overall biodiversity enhancement.

Winter trees lining a river bank
Trees lining the bank of the River Stour, near Flatford, Suffolk.

Riparian planting involves the strategic planting of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation along these water bodies. It plays a vital role in safeguarding the health of aquatic ecosystems and the surrounding environment. By establishing vegetation in these areas, several benefits are achieved:

  1. Erosion Control: Trees and plants with extensive root systems help stabilise soil along riverbanks and prevent erosion caused by water currents, reducing sedimentation and the loss of land.

  2. Water Quality Improvement: Vegetation acts as a natural filter, trapping pollutants and sediment, thus improving water quality. It also reduces runoff and helps regulate water temperature, crucial for the health of aquatic life.

  3. Habitat Creation: Riparian zones provide essential habitats for various species of wildlife, including birds, insects, amphibians, and mammals. The diverse vegetation supports biodiversity, contributing to healthier ecosystems.

  4. Flood Mitigation: Trees and vegetation in riparian areas can mitigate flooding by slowing down the flow of water, reducing the risk of overflow, and absorbing excess water.

Tree planting forms an important part of our river habitat restoration work at Essex and Suffolk Rivers Trust. The photos below show a joint tree planting effort between ESRT, the Environment Agency and landowners along the River Fynn in Suffolk:

Plant a Tree in 73 becomes Grow a Tree in 23 - Find out how you can get involved!

This year’s National Tree Week is extra special as it marks the 50th anniversary of the famous ‘Plant a Tree in 73’ campaign – from which National Tree Week (and The Tree Council!) was born!

To pay tribute to those foundations The Tree Council want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to Grow a Tree in 23 – either by participating in an organised tree planting event, or by hosting their own National Tree Week Tree Party! The crucial change in the wording – ‘grow’ instead of ‘plant’ – reflects the continued care trees need after planting to ensure they thrive. Find out more about how you can get involved on the Tree Council website.

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