Trees and Woodlands
Trees and woodlands are important for nature and climate because they help prevent flooding, reduce city temperature, reduce pollution, and keep soil nutrient-rich. In addition to environmental benefits, trees and woodlands benefit us by providing natural spaces for us to explore and walk in, something that is great for our health.
Doncaster Tree RegisterIn April 2021, Doncaster Mayor Ros Jones announced an ambitious target to plant one million trees across Doncaster over the next ten years.
The Council will work with schools, private sector businesses, parish councils, partners, landowners, and voluntary organisations, along with the people of Doncaster to increase the number of trees planted and maintained across the borough.
The One Million Tree Challenge is open for everyone in Doncaster to take part. Whether you are a school planting a woodland in your grounds, a community group creating a wildlife hedgerow or simply adding a fruit tree into your garden - every native tree counts! All we ask is your trees are native species to support our local biodiversity and wildlife.
Please let us know of your contribution to the Doncaster Tree Challenge by recording them on our Tree Register as we can then count them towards the one million total. You can register your trees by clicking here:
Doncasters Tree Register
To see a map of all submissions of recorded tree planting so far made so far, please click here:
DONCASTER TREE REGISTER MAP
Why Plant Trees?
It’s clear that trees provide wonderful benefits for both humans and the natural environment. Trees are the lungs of our cities, they are the homes for our wildlife, and they are our guardians against flooding. Trees are vital to so many aspects of our life.
Our vision for Doncaster is to increase tree canopy cover from 13% to 17%, which is above the target set out in the England Trees Action Plan. Our “One Million Tree” challenge aims to increase our cover, which will help to tackle climate change whilst making our city a greener, cleaner place to live.
By planting the right tree in the right place at the right time we aim to create climate smart woodlands which benefit us in the following ways:
Health and Wellbeing
It’s impossible to ignore that feeling of elation you get while walking through a calm, quiet woodland. Trees promote health and well-being by reducing stress and anxiety, encouraging physical activity, improving mental and emotional health and promoting social ties and community. They allow us to reconnect with nature and “slow down” for a moment in our ever fast-paced lives.
In addition, shade provided by tree coverage helps protect our skin from the ever-increasing harshness of the sun.
Did you know?
- Hospital patients with rooms overlooking trees recover faster than those without the same view. Patients with bedside windows looking out on trees heal (on average) a day faster, than patients who instead see a brick wall or have a view lacking any greenspaces. Its effects have even been shown to increase anti-cancer cells, reduce the incidence of underweight births. There is evidence that having a view of nature while recovering can reduce your levels of pain and stress—and, by doing that, it can boost your immune system in ways that allow your own body and other treatments to help you heal.
- Landscaping a property with trees can increase the value of a property by 20%. Several recent surveys have shown that mature trees in a well-landscaped garden can increase the value of a house by 7% to 19%. In contrast, poor landscaping and hardscaping can decrease property values by 35%.
- Children with views of trees are more likely to succeed in school. Studies have found that children attending schools with high tree cover in/around their grounds perform better in key subjects, including maths and English. Having more exposure to nature can result in improved concentration, greater classroom engagement, and less disruptive behaviour.
- Spending short amounts of time in forests can benefit our immune systems and our hearts. Taking a short walk amongst trees and greenspaces has been found to lower blood pressure and pulse rate, and rapidly reduce the amount of stress hormone released (cortisol). Instead it increases the release of our happy hormones (serotonin), making us feel more positive, relaxed and boosting our mood.
- Trees in neighbourhoods can lead to less crime. A recent study found that for every 10% increase in tree canopy cover, crime rates went down in several categories; including assaults, burglary and drug-related crime. Having trees and plants around houses helps reduce people’s fear, aggression and antisocial activity – all behaviours that can build up to committing crime.
Biodiversity is important to how we live. Trees, plants, wildlife and the environments they form make human life possible; from making the air we need to breathe to every mouthful of food we eat. Our whole society and farming systems rely on a vast variety of pollinators, soil organisms, natural predators - and much more.
Climate change threatens all the wildlife that live amongst us. Warmer, wetter winters and seasons that start at different times as the climate warms, means the weather is more erratic and the seasons are no longer reliable. One of the consequences of these changing conditions is a huge loss in biodiversity, with animals finding it harder to nest, breed and feed and struggling to adapt to extreme summers and more rainfall in winter.
Trees provide an important habitat for many species, and are a valuable asset for ensuring we have plenty of wildlife present in the future.
Did you know?
- A single tree can be home to hundreds of species of insect, fungi, moss, mammals, and plants. Depending on the kind of food and shelter they need, different woodland animals require different types of habitat. Without trees, woodland creatures would have nowhere to call home.
- Oak trees alone supports 326 species which are entirely dependent on oak for their survival. The common ash hosts 45 species that are only found on ash trees. An additional 141 species use both ash and oak as alternative habitats and depend on these two tree species only. If both ash and oak were to be lost, the number of species at risk of extinction would be 512.
- In England, our native woods and trees support a fifth of the UK's Priority Species for conservation. These are species at risk of becoming critically endangered or extinct. This include bats, badgers, finches, woodpeckers beetles and snakes.
- Hedgerows are as important for wildlife as woodlands. As they often link habitats together, they provide natural ‘corridors’ along which wildlife can travel as well as nest and feed in. Animals they support include hedgehogs, mice, robins, blue tits and butterflies.
- UK trees are threatened by a wide range of pests and diseases, and these have increased in recent years. At least 24 diseases are attacking our native trees, with six reaching epidemic levels and 11 more nearing our borders. 60 million trees have already been lost to Dutch elm disease, and 80% of ash trees may be lost to ash dieback. A water mold known as Phytophthora ramorum is also hugely impacting on the health of oak, beech, chestnut and larch trees; which may have a devastating effect on biodiversity and our woodlands.
- Only 7% of all UK woodlands are in good condition for wildlife. One third of all woodland wildlife species are in decline, and one in 10 woodland wildlife species are even at risk of extinction. Destruction for development, pollution, imported pests and diseases and the impacts of the climate crisis are some reasons why our woodlands are struggling.
Tackling Climate Change
As trees grow, they help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere. The entire woodland ecosystem plays a huge role in locking up carbon, including the living wood, roots, leaves, deadwood, surrounding soils and its associated vegetation. Trees are the ultimate carbon capture and storage machines!
The right trees, in the right places, can help combat climate breakdown and restore nature. Native woods and trees are one of the best ways to tackle the climate crisis.
Not only do trees capture carbon, but they also help to fight other effects of climate change; including preventing soil erosion, preventing flooding and keeping our soils healthy.
Did you know?
- Trees play a key role in capturing rainwater and reducing the risk of natural disasters like floods and landslides. Their intricate root systems act like filters, removing pollutants and slowing down the water’s absorption into the soil, which then slows down the flow of water entering into the waterbodies. This process reduce the potential for future flooding risks, and prevents harmful waterslide erosion. In the UK, the value of trees for flood protection is estimated to be £6.5 billion.
- Everything we do in life has a carbon footprint. From travelling to constructing buildings, and even eating, it all releases carbon into the air and impacts on climate change. By planting trees it helps reduce our carbon footprint, as the trees will absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. By becoming carbon neutral (or even better, climate-positive) it means we can create balance with nature.
- Trees help keep the ground healthy by reducing soil erosion. The roots from trees and other plants stabilize the soil and hold it in place, and also improve soil drainage which helps water get absorbed into the soil instead of just running over the top. Their leaves act as a barrier to rain, slowing it down and softening how it hits the ground. Trees also help against wind erosion as well, creating a blocker which slows the wind down so it cannot move the soil as strongly.
- A young wood with mixed native species can lock up in trees, roots and soil a whopping total of 400+ tonnes carbon per hectare! Woodlands capture and store different amounts of carbon at different speeds depending on the average age and number of trees present. Young woodlands have many trees and are excellent at capturing carbon, as they grow quickly and so are able pull in carbon rapidly. As they mature they store more carbon in new growth every year, reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
Much of the pollution we are subjected to is man-made. Traffic, industry, housework and general modern living increases urban pollution around us such as noise, air and heat, and often the poorest neighbourhoods suffer the worst quality. Poor urban quality is linked to many health conditions, including cancer, asthma, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. In addition to the personal cost of mortality and ill health, the impacts of pollution also have a high financial cost to society.
With more than 50% of the world’s population living in cities (a number expected to increase to 66% by the year 2050) pollution and overheating are becoming a real threat in our lives.
Trees can improve our quality of living by reducing urban pollutions such as noise, air and heat. Large urban trees help filter urban pollutants and fine particulates, making the air cleaner to breathe. Their leaves also create shade, which cools the air and protects from the sun’s rays. They also reduce noise pollution by acting as a cushioning material to reduce noise levels.
Did you know?
- Trees act as natural air conditioners by reducing heat up to 8-10 °C. They block sunlight and capture moisture from the soil and leaves, which provides a cooling air effect and works to reduce the overall temperate of the local area – a huge benefit during frequent severe heatwaves. They also provide a cool place to shelter underneath in hot weather, and the shade they cast helps to protect us from our skin being damaged by the sun’s UV.
- Trees and shrubs can reduce noise levels heard by the human ear by up to 50%. Noise pollution has been linked to increased stress levels and cardiovascular problems over time. Research has found that broadleaved trees (such as oak and maple) are more effective in blocking noise than needle-leaf trees (like firs and pines) Some studies also indicated that the greatest noise reduction in woodlands happens at the ground level, implying that a good noise barrier must be a mix of trees, shrubs and ground cover planting.
- Trees help to clean the air we breathe. Through their leaves and bark, they absorb harmful pollutants and release clean oxygen for us to breathe. In urban environments, trees absorb pollutant gases like nitrogen oxides, ammonia and carbon monoxide, and also sweep up particles like dust and smoke too!
- Trees can lower asthma in children. Research has found that in areas that have lots of urban trees, asthma rates are significantly reduced among children aged 4-5. This is because pollution from the air is captured and absorbed by the leaves absorbed. 38% of all childhood asthmas are linked to poor air quality in the local area, so trees are valuable in reducing this health condition.
Planting a tree is a great way to help fight climate change. Trees not only act as a carbon store, but they also provide huge benefits to the local environment.
Why not grow a tree? Anyone with access to pot, water, soil, sunlight and seeds can plant a tree. Collect seeds in autumn from native trees in your area (such as acorns, sweet chestnuts, beech nuts, and holly berries). Look after the seed and watch it grow until it is big enough to plant – you may even be able to plant it in your local area to visit for years to come! If you don’t have space to grow a tree, you can donate your collected seeds to grow in our tree nursery at Sandall Beat Woods (please note, we can only accept certain types of seeds).
If you own land, you can plant trees on your own land. If you don’t own land you need to ask permission of the landowner if you are allowed to plant a tree - this includes Council owned public areas such as parks, woodlands, and greenspaces.
If you are interested in planting a tree, donating tree seeds or have a project you would like support with, contact the Sustainability Team at SustainabilityTeam@doncaster.gov.uk
South Yorkshire Woodland Partnership (SYWP)
Resources: Free Trees
- Available to schools and community groups - Free Trees for Schools and Communities - Woodland Trust
- Available to schools - carbonfootprint.com - School Tree Application
- Trees for planting on publicly accessible land - Register for your 'I Dig Trees' | TCV
- Eforests free trees - Request free trees for your community woodland, nature reserve, etc. (eforests.co.uk)
- Free orchard tree and hedgerow packs - Orchards for Schools free orchard and hedgerow packs (treecouncil.org.uk)
- Orchard grants - Orchard grants - People's Trust for Endangered Species (ptes.org)
- Grants for schools, community groups and Tree Warden Networks - Our grants - The Tree Council
Resources: Useful websites/information
- Queen’s Green Canopy website - Schools - The Queen’s Green Canopy (queensgreencanopy.org)
- Woodland Trust - Tree Planting Advice - Plant Trees - Woodland Trust
- Tools to advise on planning, planting and caring for the right tree - Tree Tools for Schools – Woodland Trust
Give it a try: Urban Forest Bathing
The same way you would bathe in water or under the sun, Forest Bathing is the practice of walking among the trees to enjoy the benefits they bring to your mental wellbeing.
Here are our top 5 tips for beginners:
- Find a park, urban forest or wild woodland near you.
- Research your trail options based on how much time you have to spare. Allow yourself enough time to enjoy the area you visit, whether you’re looking to ‘bathe’ for a few minutes or an hour.
- Have a break from all things social media. This is a time to switch off from the world and enjoy quiet time in nature. Awaken all your senses. Take slow deep breaths in. Notice the clean air. Listen to natural sounds around you. Look up. See the wildlife in the trees and count the varieties of green. Marvel at its ancient strength and hidden history.
- Do it regularly. It may not come up high on your weekly to-do list, but Forest Bathing is something you should try to incorporate into your life.
- Get creative! Artists throughout history have found inspiration in nature, but spending time in woods is not only inspiring, it can boost your creativity. This means when you get home, you can let your creativity flow by writing a poem or painting a picture inspired by your journey.
You can find a list of woodlands, parks and green spaces in Doncaster here:
Give it a try: Natural Foraging
The UK is blessed with a rich variety of ecosystems that are a haven for foraging, from mixed, ancient woodland to hedgerows that thrive alongside railway lines and canal towpaths. Foraging responsibly and discovering the world of wild food is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reconnect with nature.
Woodland and hedgerows are some of the best places to forage. In those places alone you're bound to come across edible plants wherever you go, such as hawthorn leaves, nettles, garlic mustard, wild garlic, blackberries, elder or sloes, dependent on the season.
Here are our guidelines for foraging safely and responsibly:
- Minimise damage. Stick to paths and take care not to trample down or damage areas you are collecting from. Uprooting plants is harmful so pick leaves or berries with care, in moderation and avoid damaging plant roots.
- Seek permission. All wild plants are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), and it is illegal to dig up or remove a plant (including algae, lichens and fungi) from the land on which it is growing without permission from the landowner or occupier. On our sites, we do not allow foraging for commercial purposes, only for personal use. On some of our sites we prefer you not to forage, even for small amounts of fungi or other species. This is on sites that are important for conservation, are habitats for rare or vulnerable species or where there are problems with over-picking. Some species are specially protected against picking, uprooting, damage and sale. A list of these can be found on Schedule 8 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
- Know what you're picking. Never consume a wild plant or fungus unless you are absolutely certain of its identification - it could be rare and protected, inedible or even deadly poisonous. Use reference books to identify them. Fungi can be notoriously difficult to identify, so if you're unsure it's best to leave alone.
- Only collect from plentiful populations. Only collect flowers, leaves, fruits and seeds where they are in abundance. For fungi, only take mushrooms that have opened their caps (so are likely to have dropped their spores). Do not collect small ‘button’ mushrooms.
- Leave plenty behind. Wild food is vital for the survival of the UK’s wildlife. Forage carefully to ensure there is enough left for birds and species to consume now and to ensure plants and fungi can regenerate and reproduce. You may not be the only person foraging and plants and fungi need to produce seeds and spores to grow into the next generation.
- Do not collect rare species. Only take plants and fungi when you are certain you know what they are. Take a good field guide to confirm species in the field and avoid confusion. Some species are protected by law, so know what not to collect. Ancient woods, in particular, can contain many rare species so take special care. If you're not sure, it's best to leave it alone.
For a month-by-month guide of what to look out for each month, visit the Woodland Trusts foraging guide here: Woodland Trust Foraging Guide
Follow the links below to find useful information and advice about: