Tag: Tree Officers

‘Trees are the Earth’s Lungs – The Best Thing We Can Do Is Plant More Trees.’

As BTfL waited patiently in the super sunlit staffroom of St Matthew’s Church of England School for 14 year-nine children to arrive, we didn’t think it couldn’t get any sunnier. Until these lovely smiley children arrived, which made the room brighter than ever. Ready for the off to our local tree planting site at Northumberland Street, Nechells the children wore a very impressive array of very swanky wellies. We were very impressed!

Hands up, excitedly with lots of questions and facts to share about trees, it was clear these children were happy and enthusiastic, eager to help improve the air quality and aesthetics of their local area by planting trees! ‘Trees are the earth’s lungs, we need them, so it’s good to plant more and more,’ one student explained. ‘It’s the best thing we can all do for the environment,’ another student exclaimed. ‘The world needs many more trees,’ came another student. Well we couldn’t agree more and were inspire by their wonderful statements about trees.

A five-minute walk to site we pointed our previous planting site at Barrack Street Recreation Ground in November, the trees looked right at home, just like todays will too.                                                                                                                 The children arrived at site paired up into two’s and quickly assigned themselves a tree. Standing to attention spades in and the children were eager to start digging. It transpired that one of the children, Michael lived right next to the trees and could see them out of his window. ‘Well, Michael, we are trusting you will talk to the trees and look after them as their closest guardian.’ Michael looked very proud and gave us an enthusiastic nod as he pointed to where he lived knowing he would have a lovely view of the trees and would see them grown and change each season.

The trees we planted are two Acer freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’ (maple), two Betula albosinensis ‘Fascination (Chinese silver birch) and threeMagnolia kobus (magnolia with white flowers which are great for absorbing pollutants). And Michael and all the other residents would see some vibrant colour in the Autumn and beautiful flowers in the Summer.
 

As the children planted the chose names for their trees, one name stood out, ‘the tree of life,’ because planting a tree is the most important thing we can do for the environment and everyone’s life! In fact, two of the children were so impressed with planting trees they decided they would add a photograph of their tree planting to a time capsule and a memory box they had made to remind them and other people in the future of all the wonderful things they had achieved in life. Planting a tree is one of them!

‘When I grow up I am going to bring my husband and children to see these beautiful trees and I can tell them proudly I planted these trees, they kind of belong to me!’ one student told us. She was right of course; these wonderful trees will be here for many years to come – and these wonderful trees belong to all of us and we should love and appreciate everything they do. Only ever giving and never taking away!

 

There were so many wonderful conversations about trees and the children suddenly had an epiphany – we can dig, chat, laugh, stomp and straighten the tree all at the same time! So we also learnt an important lesson too – that multi-tasking really can be fun!

Please check out the photo album for this event, here

 

 

 

Five Trees planted at Penshurst Avenue – “Only 20 million More to Go!”

Well what a wonderful morning we had with 14 smiley Year Four pupils from Birchfield Community School in Aston. Proudly wearing their Birchfield Community School high vis jackets the children were well and truly prepared for our tree planting event at a small housing estate called Penshurst Avenue in Aston. Wellies on, check…., coats zipped up, check…., hats secure, check….. And off we went! Sunshine…. Check…., well  err we can’t have everything, but at least it wasn’t raining!

   

The children like all our other amazing eco-warriors we work with knew lots about the environmental value of trees and couldn’t wait to share their knowledge with us as we took the ten-minute walk from school to site. There were five trees to be planted and all the children were very excited about the prospect of planting their very first tree. The trees being planted were Hornbeam, which grows taller and narrower, picked specifically to be planted outside residential homes to avoid blocking out any light to residents homes. The second species we planted was the Silver Lime tree. This tree grows wider but was planted in more open areas.

The benefit of these trees that will nestling right next the very busy A34 dual carriageway. A very busy road with lots of congestion. These trees will help absorb the CO2 produced and add some lovely colour and foliage for resident to enjoy during the summer months.

The children eager to get going split into groups of three and put all their strength into dropping the soil around the tree in its new home. Five groups all working hard in their teams, sharing the workload and enjoying the cold but refreshing weather. ‘What are the plastic bits on the bottom of the tree for,’ one student asked. We explained that these loosely fitted plastic casings protected the trees trunk and bark from the damage a strimmer could do, ensuring the tree stays in the best health possible and damage free.

  While working together we could see there is a great sense of community in the area, passers-by waving and saying hello to the students, one shouting, ‘hey everyone, only 20-million more trees to plant, after that one, well done…’ ‘And then 20 million more after that!’ We shouted back.

The children worked exceptionally hard and didn’t stop at just planting, no, some of the children had collected some pebble along the way to decorate the bottom of the tree. ‘It’s tree jewellery, it looks nice! ‘One of the children said enthusiastically.

   

The children were very proud as they looked up at the trees they had planted. ‘Remember these are you trees, to enjoy and be talked about to all the people you know,’ we explained. ‘Yes!’ All the children agreed smiling. It was nice to finish our tree planting understanding that these children had just learned the wonderful value of trees, lessons they will take home and share with friends and family. A lesson all the children at our tree planting event recognise and value. And it’s a lesson none of us should ever stop learning! Please check out the photo album for this tree planting, here

 

 

Talk about Green Team – We Mean The Dream Team!

Well what a heady mix of interesting and amazing talent we had today at our tree planting. Where we planted at two sites on local housing land in Stockland Green. We were honoured today to welcome Stockland Green School and their Eco Council, the Green Team from Deutsche Bank, Birmingham and Birmingham’s Poet Laureate Richard O’ Brien. We were also accompanied by local councillor for the Bromford and Hodge Hill Ward, Diane Donaldson and her beautiful rescue dog, Gucci! After a chat with the eight students from Stockland Green School they had a very clear mandate for their local environment. ‘We really wanted to plant trees as we know how important they are to our environment and our health.’

‘We want our school to do more recycling, we want new bins and we want our school to ditch plastic, we campaigned for the school to get rid of plastic cutlery and we are well on the way to doing that.’ The students explained proudly. Next on the list is for Stockland Green School is to be free of plastic bottles, we can’t wait to hear about their progress.

 Walking to the site from Stockland Green School to the planting site the students noticed just how many trees lined the buy streets and dual carriageway, reducing CO2 and noise, acting as screening and looking beautiful. The students were eager to get planting on the first of two sites on housing land at Scafell Lane opposite Bleak Hill Allotments. Not only did they fill the holes, but with the help of the seven wonderful Deutsche Bank Green Team volunteers they dug the holes too.

We planted three varieties of crab apple tree today, ‘can you make a crumble with those apples? One student asked. We didn’t think it would taste that nice, but instead making a jelly or a jam might be preferable, but the real reason crab apples were chosen, because wildlife love them. The blossom is beautiful too.

Richard O’ Brien, Birmingham’s Poet Laureate was enjoying tree planting too, stating that it was the first time he had ever planted a tree – well Richard we hope and we are quite sure it won’t be your last!  As adults and younger students buddied up to plant the trees there was lots of chatter and lots of hard work. Digging, shovelling, stomping on the soil was quite a rhythmic and pragmatic approach to the planting, working as a team and admiring the trees that they had just planted.

After a quick de-brief, we all took the lovely walk across Witton Lakes to our second planting site, at Faulkners Farm Drive. There was plenty of wildlife and beautiful trees to look at as we chatted while walking. Our tree planting included Liquidamber Trees, that will provide beautiful striking colour in the Autumn months. Nestling the trees amongst the residential flats dotted here and there was a wonderful way of introducing trees, where there were none before.

There was lots of interest from local-residents and were pleased to hear that they would have something beautiful to enjoy in the autumn as well as the local wildlife. It was smiles all round as we finished planting the final tree with a feeling that we had achieved something lovely which of course together as the green, dream team we have!  You see planting trees can make you happy, planting trees make you calm and relaxed, planting trees is a community exercise, planting trees provides you with your own personal environmental legacy and planting trees can be cathartic. So, we say go and plant a tree! It will do you and your planet the world of good! Please check out the photo album for this blog here 

 

Testimonial from Catherine Harding, teacher from Stockland Green School – “I just wanted to say how wonderful this morning was! Being involved in the tree planting this morning has really opened our eyes to the importance of trees, and the students are really keen to watch them grow! So nice to be part  of a legacy in the community thee students live! ”

Poem about Tree planting at Stockland Green by Richard O’ Brien, Birmingham’s Poet Laureate

 

We Need All The Trees We Can Get   

After some training, even I can carve

a perfect New York pizza slice of turf,

but underneath this thin green strip

there’s levels of resistance:        see Chris switch,

one earphone in (a podcast; MMA)

from spade to fork,

mattock to wrecking bar,

and plunge and plunge and plunge

into the shallow store

of rubble.

 

‘Sometimes there’s more brick than soil,’

somebody says:

‘you want more soil than brick.’

 

And Chris, who graciously explained

what sets apart a shovel from a spade:

‘I’m just here to dig holes;

don’t get involved in any politics.’

 

The grass on turf put back

the wrong way up competing with

the new root-ball for water,

 

while a lady from the bank

takes black bags home to plant courgettes —

 

a quieter second life, having already

yielded to the Wyrley Birch Estate

their load of liquidambar.

 

Walking back to the car, we pass a stand

of beech and ash trees that long since outgrew

the schoolchildren whose job was treading flat

the earth around them ten years earlier

Forest School Fun in the Glorious Mud at Cotteridge Park

For our second planting of 2020 at Cotteridge Park we were surprised, shocked and dumbfounded, why? – It didn’t rain! As the winter sun shone down we lapped it up! Working with six, year nine students from Kings Norton Girl’s School who were volunteering for the day in the park along with 20 year one children from Cotteridge Primary School.

Not only was it about planting ten beautiful Hawthorne trees in the park today, but the sense of coming togetherness! With a big age gap between the students and not much in common at all at the beginning of the tree planting it was a very different story as we began to plant trees.

                 

The older students had already been at the park for two hours digging holes for the standard trees, Midland Red Hawthorns and did an amazing job considering how hard the work is. A slight obsession with worms and a chat about what constitutes a good breakfast for such energetic work were subjects we pondered together. The older students dug the holes in groups of three ready to work with the year one children planting the trees and re-filling the holes.

Friends of Cotteridge Park had organised the groups and we would like to say a big thank you to them. When the year one children from Cotteridge Primary School arrived they were raring to go and full of energy. It was their first day of Cottteridge Park Forest School and boy were these children ready to get muddy!

Grabbing spades the children lifted the soil and were eager to get the trees comfortable and stable in their new homes. As they all worked hard we watched in the distance as the Woodland team chipped all the Christmas trees that had been left in the park after the festive season.

Every Christmas tree left at Cotteridge Park will be part of a new path at the Franklin Road edge of the park – a great way to recycle all those Christmas trees! As the children dug they listened intently as they learned that every single tree planted today, once matured would provide enough oxygen for four people every day and each tree would drink 50-gallons of water every day. Wow! They all gasped in unison!

  The older and younger children gelled quickly and there was lots of giggling and gleeful gasps as they worked together as a dream team. As the ten trees planted were spread across the park the children were encouraged to run and scream their way to the next planting. Of-course the children obliged.

Every now and then the children would find a super-sized muddy puddle and with any hesitation all the children ran straight into it and splished and splashed to their hearts content. Not just because children, wellies, puddles and mud are a match made in heaven, but because the Forest School competition dictated that the muddiest forest school student won forest school student of the day. We couldn’t think of a better way to win any competition than getting down right muddy!

 

It never ceases to amaze us at BTfL and of course fill us with joy when we see how different generations pull together, laugh, giggle and bond because of the pure joy of planting trees. It’s a magical combination that works every time.

         

As all the trees were planted just in time for lunch so we thanked the students for their hard work and waved goodbye to students from both schools. Noticing they all left with smiles and their faces and a sense of real achievement.That’s what planting trees together does and here at BTfL we couldn’t be happier about it! Please check out the photo album, here  

Rain and Lots Of Smiles at Loxton Park With Year One Eco-Enthusiasts

Well it rained – again at our tree planting event at Loxton Park! But we don’t need sunshine to make our day sunny when we have 25-super smiley children from St Joseph’s Infant’s School, Nechells to brighten our morning.

These 25 wonderful children were so eager to get planting trees they got to site extra early – but we don’t mind that at all. In three shifts the Year One children arrived by school mini bus with their high vis jacket on and a can-do attitude they were our youngest bunch of tree planting pupils this year.

While the Woodland team finished digging the holes for the ten flowering cherry trees, we had a game of Hokey Cokey, sang some beautiful Christmas carols, we looked for worms, played tree statues and sang Jingle Bells, not to mention dance the soil stomping dance!

         

It was a wonderful morning as the children were eager to get going. The year one children fuelled up on their school snack of bagels and bananas were eager to grab their spades and dig some soil to plant the trees.  Despite the children being our smallest so far they really-engaged and weren’t put off by the rain or digging the trees down with soil and lots of muddy stomping.

How many are we planting…? What colour will the flowers on the trees be…? Will the flowers be the same colour as my pink wellies….?

Their most poignant statement, ‘we couldn’t survive in the world without trees, they keep us alive.’

‘No,’ we agreed, ‘trees really are nature’s lungs! It’s amazing how switched on young children are when it comes to the most important environmental issues.

The children wandered from one tree to another ensuring that every tree was dug down, was planted in a straight line, and that it was happy in the ground. As the rain got heavier the children didn’t lose their sense of humour and asked whether we should water the trees with a knowing smile.

As we dug and spread the soil the children shared their knowledge about trees and how important they are to our environment. Planting a tree is a beautiful, meaningful, symbolic thing to do. All the children were exceptionally proud to have planted trees in their local area to help everyone breathe cleaner air. Even at aged five and six these children were waxing lyrical about all the amazing benefits of trees.

 

    It was quite clear that the children love trees of all kinds, but when they are given an opportunity to plant a tree it’s gives them practical experience and pride in knowing that they have changed the world that little bit for the better. And as we packed up for the day the children explained how it a Christmas lunch at school that day. Not to mention a surprise Christmas film afternoon the school had planned for the children.

And as great days go, planting trees, eating Christmas Dinner and a cinema afternoon, as well as super smiles all morning – well that’s a pretty good day as far as we are concerned!

Liz Shipman, teacher at St Joseph’s school say: ‘ It was a cold and wet December morning when we arrived at Loxton Park excited and full of expectation at the thought of planting trees. We weren’t disappointed for Justine and her team were just as eager to involve us in the project and pass on their knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm for planting trees here in Nechells. It was a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors, get close up to trees and learn why they are so important to our lives. Thank you again for allowing us to be part of this amazing scheme!

 Please check out the rest of the photo album form the Loxton Park planting, here

 

St Albans Catholic Primary School replace lost trees in Brandwood End Cemetery

St Albans Catholic Primary sent members of their School Council, and helpers, along to Brandwood End Cemetery to plant the first 15 trees in what we hope will be an ongoing project. In late 2018 over 60 large Poplar trees had to be felled as they had become unsafe due to age and disease.  The Friends (FBEC) and the Tree Officer appealed to Birmingham Trees for Life  for replacement trees and we were fortunate to be able to support this project. We were joined on site by three local Councillors, the Park Ranger for the area and two of Birmingham’s Tree Officers.

We were all looked after very well by The Friends (FBEC) who provided hot drinks, squash and biscuits for the workers- as well as pitching in alongside pupils to plant the trees. Lots of photographs available via this link !

Great start to 2019 alongside the city’s Woodland Team.

Birmingham Trees for Life may be the organisers of all these lovely tree planting events across the City- but without the muscle of Birmingham City Council Woodland Team and the support of the Tree Officers we would not be able to plant the large numbers of trees that we do. This year we hope to reach our 80,000th!

Every planting event either requires the digging of tree pits or the mole ploughing of furrows for whips. Our trees need to be delivered to site and most importantly……our spades! No matter the weather we can rely on the lads of the Woodland Team to be ready when our planters (usually schools or volunteer groups) arrive on site.

We often forget how much we depend on them and their good will….so lets have a ‘shout out’ to the whole team !!

Today we were also assisted on site by two of the Tree Officers for the South of the City, who are frequently involved in decisions to remove trees- so especially enjoyed this opportunity to work alongside pupils from St Albans RC Primary and local Councillors to put some trees back !