12th July 2020

My own small greenspace has a total of 9 trees in it.  There is a mixture of fruit trees, a couple of Olive trees and largest of all, my Bay Tree. Next door the garden has a couple of Apple trees, a conifer, and an Ash tree and a Sycamore tree that have self-seeded a few years ago and are now getting quite large. The next garden down from there also has its own mix of trees including a holly, where the local population of holly blue butterflies breed.

Across the road from my house is an area of greenspace which has become quite wild. No one is sure who owns it and over the years it has become a dense sycamore woodland, with an understory of native shrubs such as blackthorn and interwoven with ivy and wild Clematis.

As you can see just within a small area of my house there is a whole micro-forest, full of different tree and shrub species, climbers and wildflowers. There are many species of birds and insects, small mammals, including mice and voles, bats fly past every evening in the summer, and the foxes can get very noisy at night.  Basically I am surrounded by a whole episode of a David Attenborough series! Almost without realising it we live in rich and diverse urban forest.

In order to fully understand how much of this forest habitat we have across the whole of Medway members of our MUGS Forum are helping with a special survey. This calculates the percentage of tree canopy on a ward by ward basis using a simple on line tool called i-Tree. You can find out more about how it works through the i-Tree web site.  The results of the survey are to be used as part of tree strategy for the whole of Medway and includes improving our biodiversity, capturing carbon from the atmosphere, helping to alleviate air pollution and helping to provide cooling in our town centres as average annual temperatures rise.

Caring for the trees we have and planting more is a crucial part of the way we will bring real improvements to our environment. Throughout the Coronavirus crisis we have become more aware of the importance of our local environment, including the clean air and the birdsong. We all want to keep these improvements but in order to do this we will have to make some changes to the way we live.

For example, using our cars less means less air pollution and many of us have benefitted from the extra walks we have been taking, both mentally and physically. Walking or cycling can become part of our routine rather than jumping in the car.

Joining a Friends group or starting a new one is another way of helping our local environment, maybe we can persuade some friends and family to join us on our litter picks!

Planting more tree is an obvious way and this autumn and winter there will be plenty of opportunities for us all to do this…… what this space for more information!

Just because most of us live in towns and cities does not mean we have to put up with a polluted atmosphere and a lack of wildlife in our lives. Our urban forest is a crucial part of our community and taking care of it bring us all huge benefits.

Have a lovely week!

Simon

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