Trees are remarkable beings that we have taken for granted for far too long.
We might live, on average, for about 80 years. At this age, a tree is still a youngster, as trees will live for hundreds and even thousands of years. The tree in the image above is one of a group of ancient yews in Waldershare, not far from Deal. They're called ancient because they are over 900 years old. They were probably youngsters when William The Conqueror arrived!
So trees live on a different timescale to us, a whole different pace of life, which is probably why we have only recently discovered that they communicate underground through electrical impulses and in the air through taste and smell; that they can sense danger and put up defenses and warn their neighbours; that they can feel wounds and heal them; they can measure day length and temperature; and that they can be home to thousands of animals and hundreds of species - motherships of biodiversity.
We also know that they are a part of the solution to reversing global warming. The fossil fuel we burn today comes from trees that died 300 million years ago and we're releasing all that truly ancient CO2 back into our atmosphere. We've known this for sometime, but we have largely ignored it because it's inconvenient. Today's trees, especially the mature ones, can absorb large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. So we need to protect all our trees as well as plant new ones. Felling a tree because its inconvenient to the architect, is no longer acceptable. Pruning trees and reducing crowns because leaves might fall in to our gutters or block light into our homes, is no longer acceptable. We need to live with our trees and value them. They were here hundreds of millions of years before us and they should be thriving long after we're gone.
To preserve the trees we have and to work out what additional trees can be planted and where, the Environment Committee will be delivering virtual training in a tree mapping software called i-Tree Eco. The training will be offered to Town Councillors, officers, volunteers and representatives from neighbouring Parish Councils. This mapping will generate an understanding of what tree assets are in the Deal area and enable the Councils to better protect the existing trees and develop plans for new tree establishment. It should also enable the Council to connect effectively with regional and nation tree planting initiatives by organisations such as The Woodland Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust.
If you would like to take part in this training and subsequently help with the tree mapping project, please contact the Project Officer.