The importance of trees

Recent high winds have certainly made a dramatic impact on the environment with damage to trees. On our own land near El Chorrro we awoke one morning to find a birch had crashed overnight onto the fencing which was intended to curtail our pets. First the fencing had to be repaired and then the tree needed sawing up for firewood. The third action was to replace the tree. That third step must not be overlooked. The world is suffering from a severe reduction in forest land.

At the beginning of the century Suriname in South America had 92 per cent of its land surface covered in forest. It is a different story now. Also, in neighbouring Brazil, the Amazon rainforest has suffered a similar fate at the hands of the chain saw, often in the hands of European companies eager for wood to use in housing.

Look at a map of Devon in the UK and you will see Dartmoor Forest... What forest? I was born there. Forests of oaks were felled to supply the shipbuilding industry which flourished in previous centuries... all true. My son Neil and I planted a row of oaks on our land and my wife Erny and I were proud to see them flourishing when we revisited our old home recently.

Trees are the natural habit of most birds and a great number of mammals which depend on them for food, safety and building natural homes. They absorb carbon dioxide which we generate and replace it with oxygen.

It is not just high winds that destroy our valuable forests. Apart from logging, wood is needed for the construction industry for houses which are often being built on land once covered with trees.

Also fire plays a role on the destruction of trees. Flying over Cambodia a few years back, Erny and I witnessed a fire which we roughly measured to be 500 kilometres across. What pollution was being created and how many animals were losing their homes!

A few years back a substantial fire razed much land in the hills backing Mijas. The local authority is to be commended for its immediate action, so the tree cover is now largely replaced.

If the recent high winds have blown down one of your trees, do the world a favour and replace it now.

The early spring is a good time for replanting trees as the sap is still there.