International Day for Forests

On the 21th March. It’s the UN declared International Day for Forests

The UN have declared that the Theme for 2016 Is Forests and Water. They say that this global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests.

Forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood.

Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.

Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 per cent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Celebrating forests and water

Every year on the International Day of Forests the UN celebrate the ways in which forests and trees sustain and protect us. This year we are raising awareness of how forests are key to the planet’s supply of freshwater, which is essential for life.

As we approach the International Day for Forests It is an ideal time to reflect on what we have here in Wednesfield. We perhaps have lost our ancient Broad Leaf  British Forests in Wednesfield over the Millennium. But trees are still important to us, and we as a community very much recognise that. We have every right to want to protect and nurture the trees that we do have. Whether they are in the street scene, Parks, hedgerows, gardens or fields. Trees are important to us as a City, a settlement, or for our own pleasures.

We may have lost our Forests in Wednesfield, but we have retained some magnificent trees and we should do much more to save them and enjoy them.

IMG_4957We do have Trees in Parks and Gardens, recently I informed residents of the magnificent trees that we have in Ashmore Park. Some 427 individual trees are planted in the Park at Ashmore Park and they are keeping the water table in check.

We do have Woodlands. We also have Small coppices and hedgerows. All of which have trees growing in them.

Woodlands are climax ecosystems and important for our own Oxygen!

They are of course natures way to capture and store carbon, pollution diffusion, providing shade against the potential harmful UV rays as well as providing home to many 1000’s of species.

Insects utilise woodland for habitat, providing birds and other fauna with a constant food source.

So where in Wednesfield can we see Trees & Woodland?

Woodland is on our doorstep! I would urge you on The International Day for Forests, if you want to have a wander and look at Woodland, you can do so by taking a walk down the Wyrley & Essington canal.

There is a wide range of Woodland trees along the length of our canal, and the whole stretch of the canal from Wolverhampton to Brownhills has a high variety of trees.

Oak trees are a particular favourite of many local people, they support a larger group of organisms. Some suggest Oak trees have more living organisms living on them than any other tree species, making Oak trees an important member of the canal ecosystem. When I walk along the canal especially in the Autumn you see the Jays, Wood Pigeons, Squirrels and Crows feasting on the Acorns. In the Spring the splash of colour as Blue tits, Great Tits and other family members, are all in the leaves all hunting caterpillars!

A new management plan that both Wolverhampton City Council & Walsall MBC with the Canal & River Trust, is beginning to emerge as Local Nature Reserve Status is sought for our canal.

Woodlands are important factors in the improvement of habitat and food sources for a variety of species.

Oak trees, for example as discussed earlier, have grown steadily over the past few years and represent an important resource within the canal ecosystem, which should be maintained through careful management. The hedgerows that run the length of the canal have been recorded as having Hawthorn, Ash trees, Silver Birch, Sycamore, Horse Chestnut and Field Maple and Rowan present. They are valuable trees for wildlife providing homes and nesting habitat, and food for both Birds and Mammals.

As a consequence of the spatial restrictions imposed by the nature of the bankside, large areas of woodland are not to be seen. But there ARE areas of Woodland near Devils Elbow Bridge and between Pinfold Bridge and Wards Bridge.

Enjoy the benefits of our fabulous canal system and reflect on the importance of The International Forest Day. Enjoy a walk on your canal. It has been here serving the Village and the City for over 200 years! Now that is just fantastic.i pad pictures 122

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more

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