Tree of the Day – Hazel
Saturday 23rd November sees the start of National Tree Week (23rd November – 1st December) and is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, marking the start of the winter tree planting season.
To celebrate trees we are posting the ‘Tree of the Day’ with details of the trees you are likely to see if you are out and about in Greater Manchester.
The hazel is the only native tree that bears edible nuts – other species such as the walnut and sweet chestnut were introduced, probably by the Romans. Strictly speaking, the hazel could be classed as a shrub because it usually has multiple stems rising from ground level, but it has been known to grow to a height of over 13m. (see under Corylus avellana). Its nuts famously provide food for squirrels as well as humans, and they are also eaten by the dormouse and species of birds such as jays and woodpeckers. Although large-scale cultivation of hazels for their nuts used to take place in the UK over a hundred years ago, the majority of hazelnuts on sale now are imported. Another use of the hazel involves coppicing, where the tree is cut back to the ground regularly to allow long, straight shoots to grow back. These shoots – known as ‘wattles’ – were historically used both to make fences and in buildings, where they were woven closely together and then coated with a mixture of clay, mud and straw (the ‘daub’) as part of the traditional ‘wattle and daub’ method of construction.
Trees play an incredible role in combating climate chaos by removing planet-wrecking emissions from the air around us. Despite their importance, just 13% of the UK’s total land area has tree cover (compared to an EU average of 35%).
Friends of the Earth has launched a #MoreTreesPlease campaign to double tree cover in the UK. We believe one of the best solutions to protect our environment and achieve net zero emissions (removing as many emissions as we produce) is to double UK forest by 2045, but government targets currently fall well short.
Manchester Friends of the Earth November newsletter is all about trees!
Wherever you live, trees have a wide range of benefits, which you can learn more about inside this newsletter. In our city centres, trees help absorb air pollutants and cool the air in heatwaves. In our suburbs, trees enhance the value of open spaces for exercise and recreation, improving our physical and mental health. In our countryside, trees retain moisture in the soil and thus reduce the risk of grass fires in droughts and floods after heavy rain. These are all important reasons for planting more trees here in Greater Manchester.