WHAT IS A SOUTH NORFOLK TREE WARDEN?
Tree Wardens are people who have been appointed by their local Town, Parish, or Community Council to gather and disseminate information about trees and to play an active role in encouraging practical projects relating to trees in their community, as well as conserving and enhancing their local trees and woods.
You are not expected to be an expert (though many are or become so) and can call upon the expertise and knowledge of others within your regional network. You must become a member of South Norfolk Tree Warden Network – which will give you insurance cover, information and training, as well as affiliation to The Tree Council.
The Tree Council were the founders of the Tree Warden Scheme and continue to co-ordinate its operation throughout the country.
Until recently, South Norfolk Council managed the scheme in this region but now the local scheme is run independently by the South Norfolk Tree Warden Network.
WHAT IS A TREE?
Everybody will have a slightly different answer to this and rather different emotions – for some a tree is a thing of grace, beauty and wonder – for others a useful product – and others a complete pain that casts shadow and drops leaves and for painters an endless struggle to capture on paper.
For over 400 million years, since green plants evolved to produce woody stems to enable them to reach higher for the sun, thereby gaining an advantage over the other vegetation around them, trees have been a refuge and a food source for the creatures in and below them. They provide shelter from the sun and protection from storms. Because of the way they work, they have made the oxygen that all air breathing creatures rely upon for life and have taken carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
When mankind evolved they became a valuable resource for building shelters and homes, for making tools and boats. Wood became, and still is, the most valuable construction material.
To early man, trees were thought of as somewhat miraculous and many varieties became an object of worship or signified sacred places. These beliefs were common among the Celts, Saxons and Norse peoples, our ancestors. Among these, in our part of the world, are the Oak, Ash and Yew. When Christianity came to these islands the early missionaries frequently built their churches on or near a sacred grove or tree. The pillars and vaulting of large churches and cathedrals deliberately imitate large forest trees and many cathedrals, including Norwich, have large numbers of Green Men carved into the stone.
Trees and all green plants make food from minerals, oxygen and water, obtaining energy from sunlight. In the case of trees this energy capture ultimately produces wood. Almost all vegetation grows leaves, buds, flowers and fruit. The significant difference between shrubs and trees is simply that trees make a single woody stem, from which at intervals branches of leaves are spread to catch the sunlight. Shrubs have branches right from ground level.
The ability of trees to make wood lies in a tiny layer of cells just below the surface of the bark, called the cambium layer. Every year this layer produces new wood on its inner side and a layer of inner bark, called phloem, on the outside. As this is going on, it also reproduces itself to surround its ever growing girth. Over years, the trunk thickens, branches lengthen, roots explore further. It is only when a tree dies that this process ends. An oak takes about 300 years to reach maturity and then lives for about another 300 years as a mature tree and then slowly decays for another 300 years or so, before it dies.
The impression of serenity and stillness that pervades a forest is deceptive. During the growing season the tree is in a state of ceaseless activity. Huge quantities of mineral rich water are carried up from the roots, through the new wood into the topmost branches and the highest leaves. Sugar rich sap descends through the phloem, from the highest leaves to all parts of the tree. All this energy can only be seen through the effect upon the trees growth – its leaves, flowers and fruit.
Trees are the largest and longest living things on our planet and contribute immeasurably to life on Earth.