As we turned the corner into the New Year, I for one was delighted to dust myself down from the preceding 12 months, which had been absolutely gruelling.
Pardon the pun but I knew we weren’t out of the woods back in January and nobody really seemed to know with any clarity when life would get back to normal. I don’t know about you, but I desperately needed to see something uplifting in my diary. I craved an enjoyable event to look forward to.
In one of our first meetings of 2021, our amazing Team pondered the idea of what our charity could offer anyone seeking recovery from their own challenging year. People the world over had endured unfathomable loss, sadness, confusion and stress as they adapted their lives, their educational spaces and workplaces to fit in around the pandemic. Our discussions gave birth to what is now our inaugural Trees Are The Key Awareness Week.
We felt spring was the perfect season to extol the virtues of the secret healing powers of trees and realised time was tight for launching anything major but hey, we’re mitigating climate chaos and we don’t buckle under that pressure either!
The spring is such a joyous time. You can watch trees unfurl their new leaves before your very eyes and listen to Mother Earth as she shakes and wakes everything up from its restful winter sleep. We had to nail a specific date to the mast and we knew a day was never going to be long enough so we figured a week would be just right.
The United Nations awareness day, the International Day of Forests, put a helpful stick in the sand; it always takes place on the 21st March. We decided to run our awareness week from Monday to Sunday and to bracket it around this decidedly apt and significant UN initiative. Coincidentally, the 21st is also the anniversary of the day we founded the women’s empowerment group, the Mothers of the Forest back in 2018. Less importantly but somewhat weirdly, it’s also my 55th birthday.
When time permits during our Team meetings, we often spend a moment recognising how trees and the natural spaces in our neighbourhood give our mental health and general wellbeing a much needed boost. If we haven’t overrun too much, we conclude the meeting by briefly vocalising a gratitude for something special. We often share stories about our favourite green spaces and discuss how connecting with nature keeps us stay centred and hardy. It looks as though our heads may start emerging from our homes soon, a bit like the resilient snowdrops and unfaltering bulbs that keep popping up everywhere, preparing to burst into bloom.
The lead up to March 15th has been a bit like the lead up to a wedding – a wedding taking place during the pandemic, that is: full of excitement and wonder, packed with fabulous things to look at, jammed with creativity, news, chatter and facts and it approached us rapidly with absolutely no guarantee anyone would be able to go out and celebrate it on that date! To be honest, it doesn’t really matter when you take time out to get up close and personal with the trees – you can implement some of the suggestions in Trees Are The Key Awareness Week any time you like!
We’re going to unlock the science and the secrets of how our local parks, woodlands and forests can do incredible things, including lowering our blood pressure, reducing our stress and helping us recover from illnesses and surgery more quickly.
The healing potential of trees is enormous and frequently underestimated. We realise lockdown is still limiting some of our movements but we hope that at some point you’ll be able to head for the trees as part of your exercise time. If you’re squaring up to challenges that prevent you from getting to the trees, we’re going to try and bring trees to you.
Trees are the key to so much more than mitigating climate chaos and we believe they can help us start to heal as a nation. We’ve got seven days worth of fascinating articles and video content lined up ready to roll out in our news feed and there’s much to explore at WordForest.org/week, including a free to enter photo competition.
All you have to do is send us a photo of you with your favourite tree, or just any old tree you prefer! Somebody is going to win ten trees planted in their name in Kenya. The contest closes at midnight on Saturday 20th March and we’ll showcase the winning entry with you on Sunday 21st, the International Day of Forests.
Whatever you do to enjoy Trees Are The Key Awareness Week, we hope you enjoy taking part in it as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together for you.
Tracey West and The Team
Gallery images by Nicholas Swatz, Prota, Gary Barnes, Zen Chung, Katii Bishop, Katerina Holmes, Josh Willink, Agung Pandit Wiguna, Hannah Nelson, Luna Lovegood, Noelle Otto, Brett Sayles, Rui Dias, Michael Burrows and Andre Furtado from Pexels