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July 2001

Recycling our pollution into ecological restoration is not an impossible dream

Treesponsibility in Calderdale is a small group with a big vision. One hundred years hence, we see the landscape of the West Riding of Yorkshire as a patchwork of woodlands, coppices, hedgerows, wildlife corridors, permaculture sites and community orchards, providing habitats for wildlife, as well as food and livelihoods for local people. The watershed between Yorkshire and Lancashire — at present severely degraded — will be restored to ecological good health, with reforestation of the steep hillsides, to provide a defence against flooding as the climate changes. The 75% decline in tree cover over the past one thousand years, will be reversed.

The aim of our group is to take the practical steps to bring this dream to reality. We identify tree planting sites, obtain tree seedlings, and ask people to join us to plant trees as a way of recycling their carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution. CO2 is the main greenhouse gas contributing to climate change, and at present nearly 10 tonnes is emitted each year for each man, woman and child in the UK — nearly ten times the sustainable level. By volunteering with us for a couple of days each year, planting in the region of 50 trees, people are empowered to take responsibility for their own pollution, as well as playing a part in the transformation of the area. This is definitely not a boring duty — there can be few more satisfying activities on a late Autumnal day than to work in the open air alonside other people who share the same aims and values.

Tree planting is fun!

Since our formation three years ago, we’ve planted more than 22,500 trees at over 50 sites across Calderdale (with a reasonably good success rate), and we are now looking for expansion in the year ahead, having just received a big grant from the Environmental Action Fund. We’ve already got two very exciting sites on our books for planting in the 2001/2002 season — the first is a school grounds site in Todmorden, which will be developed as an outdoor classroom and nature study area, with a wet zone, an orchard, living willow sculptures and a wildflower meadow. The second is a badly eroded 6 hectare hillside off the Bacup Road, where we will launch our After the Floods, the Forest campaign. (This is very much linked in with our campaign against an open cast mine on the watershed area above Todmorden — we are putting forward an alternative vision of ecological restoration and have already conducted a reed-bed study at Green’s Clough to find ways of treating mine-water pollution close to the source of the River Calder). Another project on the go, is a community tree nursery polytunnel, at Bent’s Farm near Hebden Bridge — over the Summer we’ll be doing path work and improving the access, so that people with limited mobility can still play an active part in Treesponsibility.

Anyone wishing to find out more about Treesponsibility, or get actively involved, can contact us on 01422 843222. We will be doing a workshop at the Northern Green Gathering to help anyone who would like to set up similar projects in their own area, and we will be holding our own gathering on the weekend of 6th/7th October, to which everyone is welcome — the theme this year will be biodiversity, and ecologically sensitive planting. Our publications include a leaflet giving details of CO2 emissions from household energy usage, and energy saving tips (free)., our quarterly newsletter (subscriptions are £4 per year), and our book, Sowing the Seeds of Change (£6, including postage). All are available from 10 Broughton Street, Hebden Bridge, West Yorks., HX7 8JY — cheques payable to Treesponsibility, please.

Treesponsibility website

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