Sustainability

Planting trees can contribute to sustainability?

Planting trees contributes to sustainability as trees are essential to:

♦ prevent soil erosion, three effects help preventing the erosion: the roots network, the deposit of leaves on the soil surface and the reduction of the wind speed and the rain intensity by the canopies;

♦  increase the soil fertility due to the replenishment of nutrients occurred by the decomposition of leaves, bark and branches on the soil surface. Trees have the ability to remove soil nutrients from deeper layers of the soil and deposit them on the soil surface each time they renewed leaves and bark, increasing the amount of nutrients available in the soil surface for other small plants to grow.

♦  moderate climate due to the shadow effect on the soil, which prevents it from being subject to large temperature variations, and the effect of moisture released from the leaves which results in soften temperature and high relative humidity. These two effects allow large forests to produce their own rainfalls;

♦  retain carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis;

♦  storage energy through the production of polymers of carbon and hydrogen, more commonly known as timber or wood;

♦  feed animals and humans the fruits that the trees produce are the main source of food of many animal species.

♦  stimulate and protect the activity of microorganisms and small animals at ground level, which are essential to mobilize, aerate and decompose the organic matter, making the whole ecosystem richer in nutrient.

♦  improve the groundwater quality,

♦  regulate the hydrological regime of hydrographic basins.

While spreading trees and woods through cities and rural areas, call attention to the emergency of preserving the existing “untouched” forest areas, whose the wealth provided by the biodiversity they shelter, the soil richness, the climate mitigation, the retain of potable water, … once lost cannot be reproduced.

Implementation

Why create a woods?

Woods are plantations of trees of various species with different ages!

We call them woods to distinguish them from the plantations with industrial purposes, where there is only one specie and all trees have the same age.

In a woods it is desirable to mix together different type of trees such as, for example, deciduous, evergreen and conifers.

Woodshould be consider because of its beauty, of its diversity and of its magic. It will be a space of predilection for birds and for close contact with nature.

Woods may be planned to multiples functionalities such as: leisure, animal’s shelter, landscaping design, animal feed, air purification, noise absorption, wind barrier, … the species to plant and its relative position will depend on the wood intended functionality.

An advice from a technical expect will help to guarantee the success of the woods considering the intended functionality is important to ensure a harmonious coexistence between the different species selected.

What type of caring will be required after plantation?

The intensity of caring required will depend on the functionality for the space and on how well are the trees selected adapted to that space.

Any intervention should be taken with respect for the surrounding environment and awareness of its impacts.

Most common interventions are related to:

 pruning - the trees benefit from regular pruning as a way to model/guide its growth, removing diseased branches and ensure a safe growth;

♦ control of scrubs and weeds – in case of an excessive proliferation of shrubs or herbaceous with a propensity to become a weed, its removal and control should be considered;

 fertilization - must be considered during installation in order to ensure its success and, at a later stage whenever need to ensure a healthy growth or to accelerate the growth;

 irrigation – usually some irrigation care will be required during the first months after plantation and irrigation needs after that initial phase will depend on how adapt are the trees chosen to local rain regime. Some irrigation care is usually recommended during the summer months.

 density correction -  must be considered whenever there is an excessive competition for light and soil by selecting the most viable trees and cutting and removing the others.

  pests and diseases control – sometimes some intervention to avoid a pest or a disease should be consider. Be aware that some treatments can have unwanted side effects therefore its application should be avoided or performed by qualified personnel.

Can we plant any tree?

No.

It is very important to select the right tree or set of trees. Factor like the intended functionality of the space, the local weather conditions, the soil characteristics, the terrain relief, the water available,… should be consider when setting the range of available options.

Regarding the functionality of the space trees can be selected because their:

 ornamental effect - select trees with special characteristics such as the shape of the canopy, color and shape of leaves and type of flowering.

 wind shelter effect –select very resistant trees with columnar shape and evergreen to create a wind barrier.

 wood production - select trees with straight shapes and habits of growing the trunk with a high canopy.

 biodiversity shelter - select trees with dense canopies;

 biodiversity feed – select trees that produce small fruits to feed wildlife.

 effect on protecting and retaining the soil - select trees with dense and branched root systems.

 fruits production;

 sound barrier – select trees with ever green foliage;

 …

After identifying space functionality, consider:

 the local temperature amplitude, minimum temperature and maximum temperature recorded;

 the local rains regime, in particular how long is the period without rain during the summer;

 type of soil;

 the local altitude;

 the intensity of local sunlight;

 the terrain relief;

 …

Request a specialized technical advice can avoid the failure of the plantation and anticipate the period of time required to start benefit from the intended functionality for the space.

Economy

Can I have economic profit from planting trees and woods?

Yes.

Trees and woods have a medium/long investment term witch makes it harder to value its economic profit. In additional some of the profits come from subjective positive externalities that are added by the trees and woods to the space.

To set a value for the economic profit a survey of all the costs associated with the planting and the future maintenance should be done .In normal situations the costs due to maintenance will decline with time and may even turn out to be zero.

To value the future revenues coming from trees and woods we should consider the future values added for personal and/or commercial purposes from the following:

 fruits collected;

 wood explored;

 by-products such as mushrooms and small berries collected;

 positive valuation of the space;

 economic value of the externalities associated (such as welfare, promotion of biodiversity).

When the main concern of a woods is foment sustainability, a woods project should not be restricted to its economic value but should also consider the environmental and social value added. Which means that the economic profitability of the project, although important, should always be complemented with the assessment of environmental and social effects of it.