Let’s start with the most important fact - trees are keeping us alive! They absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, which we need to survive. Trees are literally keeping us breathing.
A breath of fresh air
Trees are homes. Thousands of species from fungi to insects to wild animals make their homes in trees.
Tawny owl perched on a tree
Ancient woodlands provide homes for up to 200 of our most threatened species, from rare orchids to endangered dormice. They are like living museums, providing an ecosystem that supports many of our favourites, including red squirrels and badgers, long-eared and barbastelle bats, tawny owls and woodpeckers, stag beetles and ancient lichens.
A deer in the forest
Trees provide us with building materials, furniture, fuel, paper and much more. Forestry England, Forestry and Land Scotland, and Natural Resources Wales manage our publicly owned forests, sustainably harvest almost four million tonnes of wood every year. This reduces our dependency on imported wood and helps offset the costs of managing the forests.
Autumn in the forest
In Japan, and now here in the UK, people go 'Forest Bathing' – spending time immersed in the sensory experience of the forest to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Try Forest Bathing for yourself.
Trees are good for our minds. Forest Bathing is proven to bring down levels of stress hormones, and studies have found that natural environments also improve creativity and improve happiness.
The forest in summer
Trees can help keep us physically healthy. They release substances called phytoncides which have been shown to increase activity of our Natural Killer cells - cells that fight disease.
A 2015 survey by Unilever found that only 1% of families could identify Britain’s most common trees. It’s something most of us wish we were better at, explore our guide to discovering Britain's trees to get you started, with some of the British trees you most are likely to see.
The forest floor in summer
Sequoioideae, popularly known as redwoods
Forest of Dean has ancient oak trees planted under the instructions of Lord Nelson when wood for shipbuilding was in short supply in the early 1800s. By the time they were mature, shipbuilding had moved from wood to steel and so the trees remain standing to this day.
Carpet of bluebells
Talking of oaks, there are nearly 1,000 ancient oak trees in Sherwood Forest, which are up to 1,000 years old. It’s the largest concentration of ancient trees in Northern Europe and includes the world-famous Major Oak.
Cabin nestled between the trees in Sherwood Forest
And talking of Scotland…parts of the ancient Caledonian Forest have over 9,000 years of unbroken links to the first pine trees. The forest remnants are all in the Highlands but, further south, take a walk through Ardkinglas Gardens, near to Ardgartan Argyll to encounter the Champion Trees, including a silver fir which has a girth in excess of 31ft and, one of Britain’s tallest trees, a grand fir, which stands at over 200ft tall.
National Tree Week is the UK’s largest celebration of trees and up 1m trees are planted each year – over 30 million trees have been planted since 1975. There are community events around the country that you can get involved with.
Aerial view of the forest
When Christmas approaches you may be wondering if you should get a real tree. The good news is that real Christmas trees can be far more environmentally friendly than artificial ones. You would need to reuse your artificial tree for more than 10 years to bring its carbon footprint down to that of a real tree.
Real Christmas trees can be far more environmentally friendly
Looking for family activities you can do at home? Want to get the whole family interested in the great outdoors? From identifying trees at the window to taking a stroll around a local forest, these facts are ideal for including as part of home-schooling activities or on a family day trip. If you use these facts as part of a children's activity make sure you share some snaps with us on social media, we’d love to see!