Since 1973, National Tree Week has been the U.K.’s largest tree celebration, which takes place during a decided week in November. This year, it takes place from November 27 to December 5. The purpose of National Tree Week, which is held to kick off the annual winter tree-planting season, is to encourage the public to plant trees and appreciate the beauty and importance of trees in our environment and life. Throughout the U.K., many projects are taking place this week to address the problem of biodiversity loss and promote resilient tree management to help futureproof the natural environment in response to climate change.
History of National Tree Week
The beginnings of National Tree Week date back to 1973 when British parliamentarians Sydney Chapman and Peter Walker launched a campaign to raise awareness about the threat of Dutch elm disease, which was killing a substantial number of trees across the United Kingdom. Dutch elm disease hinders trees from efficiently absorbing water, so this was considered a major concern.
The celebrations were initially called Plant a Tree in ’73 and called upon communities across the country to plant as many trees as they could throughout the year. Festivities usually begin at the tail end of November as it is the beginning of winter, and trees are recommended to be planted during this period before the cold sets in. The U.K.’s tree planting season lasts from November until March — and National Tree Week signals its beginning.
Trees have a critical role in the natural ecosystem that cannot be overstated. They help collect carbon dioxide from the air and release it as oxygen, making them important pollutant controllers. More trees provide better air quality and more pockets of shade to shield us from the elements, all of which are good for human existence. The presence of trees also aids the surrounding species by providing them with shelter and food, while the soil obtains the nutrients it requires to develop stronger and more fruitful.
As part of National Tree Week, various British city and borough councils hold tree planting and awareness events to spread the message and green up their surroundings. In urban environments, planting more trees helps the public create closer connections to nature. It also ensures that our living environment remains healthy and beautiful.
National Tree Week timeline
King Henry III signs the Charter of the Forest, permitting public access to the Royal Forest Area, previously closed off by William the Conqueror.
The U.K. introduces the Tree Preservation Order (T.P.O.) to protect important trees or woodland areas from damage and destruction by law.
The first National Tree Week is held, under its former name, Plant a Tree '73.
‘The Charter for Trees, Wood, and People’ is launched by the Woodland Trust.
National Tree Week FAQs
What is the U.K.'s National Tree?
The U.K. designates the English Oak as its national tree. This is because the English Oak is considered to have supported more life than any other kind of tree in the U.K. and contributes greatly to biodiversity and natural sustainability.
Does the U.K. have Arbor Day?
The U.K. does not have its own official Arbor Day. However, holidays such as National Tree Week fulfill the same goals as Arbor Day, as it celebrates and appreciates trees and encourages the planting of as many as possible.
How do you plant a tree?
Planting a tree involves soaking the tree to prepare it for planting, digging a hole at least twice the size of the root ball, preparing the sapling’s planting by spreading compost or other organic material to ensure the tree will grow healthily, carefully ensuring the roots are intact when being uprooted from the pot, placing the sapling in the hole, covering the roots with soil, and watering it.
How to Observe National Tree Week
Get into the spirit and plant a tree
The main purpose of National Tree Week is to encourage people to plant trees. Participate in a National Tree Week planting event in your neighborhood to help green the area. The more trees you plant, the healthier and more pleasant your environment gets!
Learn more about the trees in your local environment
If you want to learn more about the state of your local trees, contact your local government or the National Tree Council to find out what you can do to help. Keeping up to date on the state of your neighborhood trees might help you spot difficulties and problems before they become too serious.
Spread the word about National Tree Week
To raise awareness of National Tree Week and the issue of trees in the U.K. in general, post on your social media pages. These can be anything from #NationalTreeWeek awareness posts to general facts about trees that you think people should know.
5 Interesting Facts About Trees
Trees have stood since time immemorial
Methuselah, a 4,853-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine in California, is the world's oldest living tree.
Three countries hold the most tree species
Indonesia, Brazil, and Colombia have the highest number of endemic tree species in the world.
Trees can talk and communicate amongst themselves
Trees can communicate with each other by sending natural chemicals to warn them of threats such as insects and parasites.
Tree roots grow deep into the earth
Tree roots can stem as far as 20 feet underground, with a wild fig in South Africa reportedly growing roots as deep as 400 feet.
The sun affects a tree's bark
The bark of trees that grow in shaded areas tends to be thinner than those growing in sunny places.
Why National Tree Week is Important
It is a week that celebrates trees as a giver of life
Trees play an important role in the survival of life on Earth. Their contributions may not be recognized or appreciated as much as they should be since they do it silently. National Tree Week highlights the function and importance of trees in maintaining the balance of nature, as well as why we should care for them.
It reminds us of the importance of trees in keeping nature in balance
It's never a happy sight to see a tree being unnecessarily cut down or damaged beyond repair. The loss of one tree can affect the environment in which it stands. The surrounding soil might not receive the adequate amount of nutrients it needs, or the quality of air could worsen around you. That is why National Tree Week helps remind us that they play a vital role in keeping the environment healthy and pleasant.
Trees help us connect with nature
The lack of trees can also affect the natural state of your area. Have you ever felt so disconnected from nature whenever you see an area that was once teeming with trees but is no longer so? Such a sight can break your heart, and more importantly, drives wildlife and nature further from us. Thus, National Tree Week also serves to remind us that trees help us become more connected to nature, which is important to realize in an increasingly industrialized world.
National Tree Week dates