The Value of Trees in Carrickfergus

We derive so much enjoyment from trees yet the amount they contribute to our existence is often overlooked.Their role as a backdrop is accepted but never actively considered other than by enthusiasts who are aware of their benefits already.

The media create a constant steam of unsettling stories about climate change with its likely impact on current generations and on the generations to come. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, one of the principle greenhouse gases. Trees provide shelter and shade and it has been estimated that they can save up to 10% of the energy needed to heat or cool nearby buildings. Trees slow down the rate at which rainwater hits the ground and bind soils to stabilize embankments, which helps to reduce the likelihood of flash flooding and soil erosion. Trees are sustainable.

Health is something each and every one of us strives for. Trees filter out atmospheric pollutants. Trees shade out harmful solar radiation and have a positive effect on the incidence of asthma. Trees can assist in the cleaning up of contaminated land.

Property owners share a common interest in the value of their assets. Trees, it has been estimated, can increase property values by as much as 18%, with houses and homes in tree lined avenues much desired and sought after. Ask any estate agent. Trees also mask the intrusive nature of many developments where space is at a premium.

Many of the every day products we buy from supermarkets and garden centres originate from trees. Trees yield fruit and nuts. Trees provide horticultural mulch. Trees yield timber for construction and furniture. Renewable fossil fuel, high value chemicals and pharmaceuticals may be the wood products of the future.

Trees provide valuable environmental habitats for a myriad of creatures both large and small. Trees bring the countryside into town. Trees enhance the character of local areas. Trees soften the landscape of hard edged towns, making them greener and more attractive. Many government advisory notes emphasise the importance of sustainable communities. Trees contribute to the landscape where people meet. Community involvement in woodland creation and maintenance is on the increase with people becoming more aware and involved in their local environment.

Archaeology is associated with digs, fossils and ruins. Yet trees provide an everyday link with both the past and the future. Ancient woodlands provide a link with craft, woodland management skills, and life styles now almost forgotten. Trees offer many clues to a historic past which can be seen for those who wish to look. Trees provide long lived memorials to those no longer with us.

A salutary thought, many of the most significant trees in our towns and cities were planted more than a century ago, providing a living legacy for everyone to enjoy and benefit from today.