CEL members’ letter campaign for National Tree Week, 29 Nov to 7 Dec.
Deforestation, tree pests and diseases, may be attracting less news coverage in recent times, but the problems remain very real. Our letter campaign in early 2014 focused on the role played by the plant trade in introducing pests and diseases, asking garden centres to sell only UK-sourced and grown plants. For this new letter, the focus shifts to timber.
The timber theme links together two tree-related concerns – disease and deforestation. Global trade in timber has been recognised as one of the major causes of the surge in pests and diseases. And the growth in the use of biomass for power generation is seeing deforestation and timber imports soar.
In order, then, to limit the loss of many more of the world’s trees to pests and diseases or to loggers, there are particular solutions. Could you send the following letter to your MP or to a local or national newspaper? Or use this article in your church magazine to publicise and highlight these issues. Please feel free to adapt the text to your local situation.
Like so many environmental questions, the diverse threats facing the world’s trees tend to become overshadowed. But there are always new and specific problems, and two in particular seem now to be spiralling: tree pests and diseases and deforestation.
The actual rate of new tree diseases has surged during the last twenty years, and still now more species face new threats. The global trade in plants is one significant cause, but equally important is the international timber trade. Britain depends on imports for almost all our hardwood alone. Several million cubic metres of timber are imported into the UK each year, the majority from temperate forests. With all these timber imports comes the threat that still more pests and disease will be introduced to our native trees.
All across the world, deforestation still persists – and now the surge in the use of biomass in energy generation (as in UK power stations) is exacerbating the problem, with some of the timber imported from primal forests in the USA. These ecosystems will be weakened, and these forests’ function as a carbon sink will also be lost. Moreover, the carbon footprint of transporting the timber to Britain will be considerable.
These two issues come together in the global timber trade, to which alternatives need to be developed. Strengthening the UK’s own timber production is one clear imperative, thereby reducing our dependence on imported timber for such uses as construction as well as biomass as a fuel. Waste agriculture material from within the UK, such as straw or crop wastes, can be used as alternative biomass fuels to limit the use of timber. Sustainable British forestry – a move away from monocultures to more broadleaved as well as conifer commercial woodlands, using recognised ecological methods of forestry – could hep rural economies.
In 2011 the proposed sale of many of Britain’s woodlands provoked a furore. Unsustainable use of wood in large power stations also needs to be challenged. One large biomass power station uses more than one and a half times as much as all the wood produced in the UK every year. This is putting pressure on natural biodiverse forests in the southern USA and Canada, and encouraging fast growing eucalyptus plantations in place of rich biodiverse forests in South America.
We call on the government
1. to stop supporting large biomass power stations which depend on importing wood pellets from overseas
2. to protect our current forests with more funding for appropriate research, surveillance, monitoring, control and mitigation measures to tackle those diseases that are already here, and to be better prepared for new threats.
Comments on "CEL members’ letter campaign for National Tree Week, 29 Nov to 7 Dec."
Thomas O Donovan:
When the Irish Government were considering selling our forestry to an international forestry company some time ago we organized a national ''walk for the woods''campaign to persuade them to change their mind.We were successful.I also wrote ballad-A SONG FOR OUR TREES which might have helped.Give applause to the trees and they'll all take a bough! Best wishes.Tom
Stephanie and Jim Lodge:
We feel it is extremely sad that some people and The Greenest Govt. Ever can't be trusted to afford the strongest possible protection for our trees, and take responsibility for not diligently controlling the importation of timber. We can never be taken seriously when it comes to taking the lead to stop other nations from destroying theirs. Our ancient woodlands are disappearing due to major infrastructure projects etc., but our existing stock does not enjoy the care and maintenance, as stated earlier, there is not enough funding to cover the costs of dendrologists to ensure their survival without threats of above mentioned diseases? Do our trees not deserve better than this? What species was The Tree of Knowledge of good and evil in Genesis?
Rev Hazel Barkham:
We must save our trees.