National Tree Week is run, predominantly, by The Tree Council who organise events around the country in support of their campaign to get us all thinking about, and planting, trees. The idea has been around for almost 40 years, since the government introduced the idea of the National Tree Planting Year in 1973 to encourage the public to help replace the millions of trees killed by Dutch Elm Disease.
With pests and diseases threatening some of our most iconically British trees in recent years, such as oak, horsechestnut and ash, our woodlands and forests need our attention and protection more than ever. If you don't have the outdoor space to plant a tree, you could consider getting involved with the Woodland Trust's initiative to encourage community planting: find a piece of land in your local area that would benefit from trees, ask the permission of the landowner and get other local people involved, and then apply to the Trust for a free tree pack. The packs are worth up to £420 and are 'themed' around the type of situation, resource or habit you are trying to create from bee-friendly groupings to the provision of community firewood. The offer is also open to schools.
Another excellent option as the festive season approaches is to gift the planting of a tree in existing forest or woodland to a friend or relative. There are a number of schemes around the country to help you achieve this; I've been both a recipient and a giver via the National Forest's plant a tree scheme. I'm still yet to take them up on actually seeing my tree planted (and may have missed the window for this, sadly), but we'd love to take Izzy in the next year, to plant the tree we 'gifted' to mark her birth. I can see this being something of an anniversary activity, where each year we visit the National Forest to see how 'her' tree is getting on - certainly better from an environmental standpoint than some joyless party in a stuffy, overheated eatery or over-merchandised kiddy theme park.
I was sceptical to start with, but maybe National Tree Week has its place after all - even if it is just to act as a reminder to me to dig out the information about our respective tree-planting gifts. It certainly makes more sense to me than National Engineers Week (17-23 Feb) or National Careers Week (4-8 Mar). Farmhouse Breakfast Week (20-26 Jan) on the other hand ...