Last month Roots for the Future concluded six more planting sessions at Charterhouse school. This was the third year in a row we have partnered with the school to engage Year 9 in planting trees on the school grounds.
Luckily we managed to complete the project before schools were directed to close by the government a result of the of the COVID-19 situation.
Charterhouse considers their Community & Partnerships Programme a key element of its communal life. The school was founded by a philanthropist who gave it the motto ‘God having given, I gave’. So a sense of service and charity is at the heart of Charterhouse’s ethos.
As part of the wider community in Godalming, pupils and teachers are engaged in local civil society in a variety of ways, such as through volunteering opportunities working in charity shops, or giving time to local organisations. We are proud that Charterhouse’s work with Roots for the Future is becoming an annual event.
This year we planted a new hedgerow at the back of the music rooms on campus. The boys had the opportunity to plant least one tree sapling each to make up the hornbeam hedge. This hedge will provide not only wildlife, such as birds, voles and hedgehogs, with a home, but it will also play a key role in confronting some of the effects of the climate emergency.
Hedges are essentially long rows of trees so, once established, they will provide the climate with the same benefits as trees do.
With our winters getting milder and wetter, the fact that trees absorb 70 times more water under their roots than under grass means that the hedge will capture much of the run off from the schools roads and pathways. Given there is a steep bank next to the hedge leading down to flats below (where I understand a proportion of the school’s teachers live) the hedge will play a vital role in preventing soil erosion and potentially a mudslide.
And if that sounds on the dramatic side, while we were planting the hedge, the saplings and their 13 and 14 year old planters endured no less than three pretty serious storms. 2020 started off with storm Brendan in early January, leading to storm Ciara in early February, and worst of all storm Dennis in mid-February which caused widespread flooding across the country, in the county and in Godalming itself. The young hedge weathered them all.
It’s fairly widely accepted that these weather extremes are going to become the norm, but the good news is there is much we can do to help mitigate and adapt to climate change. Planting trees is a simple, effective and fun way to do this.
With the country in lockdown, and many of our pleasures temporarily on hold, being outside planting trees in large groups feels like a distant memory. I am sure once we start to do enjoy our freedoms again, being outdoors with friends, doing something amazing for the planet, will be even more memorable.