Here is an open letter which I sent to my MP’s office this morning. I’d love to hear your thought’s and comments in the section below. You can also show your support for the idea by sharing it with you friends and family on social media.
I am writing to you as both a local business owner and resident.
It was really encouraging to hear in the news this week that the Environment Agency had done a study in to the affects of trees planted alongside rivers, which showed that planted areas could reduce downstream flooding by as much as 20%.
As you know, here in Witney we had widespread floods back in 2007 which split the town in two for days as the River Windrush dramatically burst its banks.
This got me thinking and whilst out in the garden I considered if there were a way of acting on this research that would see more than the benefit of a 20% reduction in flooding. It would be great if it could also add to education of local children, carbon offsetting for local businesses, community building and an increase in wildlife habitat.
Here is what I came up with.
Willow is a fantastic tree for rivers and extremely simple to propagate, meaning that it is an ideal species to teach children (even at primary age) about how plants grow and what they need to be healthy. This could be an extremely cost effective way of producing thousands of trees to be planted alongside the nations rivers and if every school was encouraged to participate and only half did then that would mean that 4.1 million children would learn about propagation and plant growth. Not only that, they would also feel a connection to a national program of tree planting that was looking at reducing the nations flood-risk. Think ‘Grow For Victory!’ If each child reared only 5 little willow trees we could see 20 million trees for a national project.
Local Business and Carbon Offsetting
Many local businesses these days are looking for an opportunity to donate to projects which help them off-set their carbon emissions. Mostly charities which organise this, do so overseas, but with The UK’s tree coverage being one of the lowest in the world at just over 11%, we could benefit from keeping this money in the country to maximise our own woodland and also to directly fund the local education element above. Donations from local businesses could be used to fund equipment for schools such as secateurs, pots, compost, gloves, etc – making it cost neutral for the government and allowing local businesses to support local flood defences, education and communities all whilst off-setting their carbon emissions on a local level.
We’re both way too young to remember the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign, but I do fondly read about it – a time when the nation came together to grow food for the betterment of the nation.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic and certainly in keeping with the Big Society to encourage local groups, clubs and associations to take on the planting of these trees which would have been nurtured by local children?
Maybe we could take on a small trial here in Witney to encourage local businesses to fund local schools to propagate willow for the River Windrush? Maybe we could work with local conservation groups to get them planted and managed?
If successful then maybe you could network and get the idea working on a national level?
The worst that would happen is that we’d have a big number of kids knowing how trees work and loads of beautiful trees to enjoy!
Would love to hear your views. Maybe over a beer in a local pub when you have time?
The Witney Gardener