We are always in rush. Rushing to lectures because we spent 5 too many minutes in bed. Rushing to the shops to scavenge for a cheap deal for dinner. Rushing to complete an assignment we left until the last minute. But how often is it that we just stop, take a moment and actually take in the environment around us? You would be amazed how much you can overlook when you’re rushing from place to place, busy in your own thoughts, not really paying attention to what is going on around you. Trees often go unnoticed in the urban landscape, blending into the background, but there is something about trees which I find fascinating.
There is a timelessness of a trees presence. A sense that you will never be able to comprehend how many people have looked at a tree or that something which starts life as nothing more than seed has grown to be something so magnificent. In a constantly changing landscape with the hustle and bustle of modern life, trees provide a constant when everything else around you is in a state of flux. But trees do so much more than this, playing a role in every part of our lives; we make dens in the woods when we are young, getting our first real wild experience, and as we grow we start to walk and cycle and run through the woods instead. As soon as you enter a woodland, you suddenly become aware that you are not alone but surrounded by life from the smallest of insects to foxes and owls, with our woods being a place of refuge for so many species.
As you get into your car to nip to the shops or hop on the bus, the trees are there catching some of the emissions we produce, with urban trees helping to make the air we breath that little bit cleaner. As you make your way to lectures, your eyes are drawn to the orange, red and yellow colours of the urban tree canopy in autumn, adding colour and life to the grey man-made structures we now call home. When you get back home in evening for dinner, you will probably find yourself sitting at a wooden table, revising from a textbook printed on paper and eating food from within cardboard packaging.
Although we don’t always notice the trees around us and the impacts they’re having, it doesn’t mean that trees aren’t important and we would definitely notice if they weren’t here. The Charter for Trees, Woods and People or the Tree Charter was launched by the Woodland Trust in 2017 in response to the crisis facing trees and woods in the UK and to show everyone how trees and people can stand stronger together. After collecting over 60,000 stories from the public about why trees and woods were important to them, they developed the 10 principles of the charter outlining why we value trees and woods and why they should be protected.
The Woodland Trust have joined forces with the NUS to bring you the Students for Trees project – a project which wants to get more of us students involved in the tree charter and showing the world that trees are important. And it couldn’t be easier to get involved – we want to encourage as many students as possible to sign the Tree Charter, whatever you study! Just head over to the NUS website and add your name (sustainability.nus.org.uk/students-for-trees/get-involved/sign-the-charter).
If you are part of a society and want to do more to show your support for trees then why not sign up as a Tree Charter Branch and join a growing community of students who want to show their appreciation for trees and help a national movement. Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.