Midsummer's day marks the midway point of The Tree Council's Tree Care Campaign, launched on 21st March, yet there has been little evidence of summer over the past few weeks. The recent extreme of wet and stormy weather has presented an unwelcome threat to both newly planted and established trees across the country.
In recent years Britain's trees have had to cope with record breaking temperatures and drought, as well as severe flooding. This spring saw the warmest March in 55 years, with rainfall at just 38% of average. This was followed by the wettest April for 100 years in which we saw 182% of average rainfall. Several European- and national-scale climate change assessments also now suggest a future of increased flood risk within the UK [i]. This could spell disaster for trees in both urban and rural locations.
Newly planted trees are particularly vulnerable to high winds and flooding as they don't yet have an established root system. In the last tree planting season alone, the Big Tree Plant initiative has seen more than 130,500 trees planted in England's streets, towns and neighbourhoods; like all newly planted trees, they'll need care to help them survive adverse weather conditions. The Tree Council is urging people to protect these and other newly planted trees during these unpredictable summer months.
Tree Council Director-General Pauline Buchanan Black said, "Simple actions such as checking that newly planted trees are firm and upright in the ground, loosening ties to ensure the stems are not under pressure or rubbing against the stake or guard, and ensuring that tree guards have not filled with water can help many more trees survive unpredictable weather in their crucial early years."
Weather conditions over recent years imply that this year's weather is not a one-off, but a developing pattern of unsettled and unpredictable weather which will have implications not only on our tree care actions but our future tree planting habits.
"Trees can take over 100 years to reach maturity, so the trees we plant this year will mature in a climate quite different to ours" added Buchanan Black.
"It's worth thinking now about how you plan to plant your trees this autumn in order for them to adapt to a changing climate. Simple steps such as choosing species that will cope with unsettled weather patterns will make our trees more resilient to future climate threats."
Environment Minister Lord Taylor said, "Trees make a huge impact on our rural and urban landscapes and are an important part of our environment. If everyone follows The Tree Council's advice on tree care, we can help ensure they survive to be enjoyed by future generations."