To tree, or not to tree?

Flanders Moss NNR

Across the world, in the wake of the climate crisis, a key action used to combat global temperature rises is tree planting. Because trees are fantastic. Not only do they help reduce carbon levels, they can help prevent flooding, reduce noise levels, provide green spaces for people and act as key habitats for wildlife.

And let’s face it, they’re just nice to look at – especially in this beautiful autumn season.

Autumn Colours at Loch Lomond NNR

So, we should definitely tree, right?

While tree planting, reforesting and regeneration are vital tasks, we must be selective about where we do so, and what species we use.

Peatlands store vast amounts of carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, which would add to the climate crisis. But peatbogs need to be, well, boggy! As we have already mentioned, trees are very good at preventing flooding. This is because they require so much water to grow, they will quickly dry up the earth surrounding them. They will subsequently expand in area as their seedlings grow around them, which will take up more water, producing more trees, which will take up more water…

Definitely not what we want happening on our bogs!

It was with this in mind, therefore, that we set out onto the moss for a long day of clearing invasive conifer species. Those with their chainsaw licenses took to the big’uns, while those of us without took to things the old fashioned way – with a handsaw, a strong arm, and an enthusiasm for falling into puddles.

Mature pine trees whose offspring had begun encroaching onto the bog

Waste not, want not.

Many of the trees were left where they fell to provide a deadwood habitat for invertebrate species. But some of the larger trunks were put to good use.

The following day, the core team headed back out, this time in the company of our dedicated volunteer team. Hard as it is to believe, a water-ridden bog can become very boggy – to the point that access to the reserve for our various workers (and, so it would seem, our machinery!) can become a bit of a challenge.

How to fix such an issue? Why, with all the newly available wood of course! Repurposing our felled trees into a corduroy bridge (a very fancy name for what is essentially a pile of carefully placed logs) allowed our workers, dogs and iron horses safely back and forth…but unfortunately only after discovering the deepest puddles the soggy way!

Still, muddy as we were, it was a highly productive couple of days. We were able to repurpose trees that, here at Flanders, are more of a hindrance than a help, into natural bridges that filled up a few of the bog’s black holes… saving us from future accidental immersion!

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1 Response to To tree, or not to tree?

  1. This is so important!

    Liked by 2 people

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