Trees and Values day 2019

The ability to reverse the environmental problems of planet Earth is within our grasp.  It is time to stop despairing and finger-pointing and start acting in a conscious and more caring way toward our shared planet.

TMC recognises that every year the flights we book for our radioloigsts to report from the other side of the world cause a minimum of 360 metric tons of CO2 to be released into the environment.  In order to offset our carbon footprint, we are proud to partner with where, for the last 3 years, we have come together to help improve the sustainability of “El Dalmau”, a local forest now owned by the Generalitat of Catalonia.

Sunday 24th February 2019 marked the 3rd year celebrating Trees and Values and we had the pleasure of spending a day at the Finca Dalmau – a masia dating back to the 12th Century which is nestled into the foothill of the Sant Llorenç del Munt mountain.   This beautiful old house is named after the family who built and maintained it for hundreds of years and it was passed down from generation to generation.  However, when the last of the Dalmau family had no children, the house was passed into the hands of the Generalitat (the local government) who simply don’t have the money to restore and maintain it.

The great thing about our TMC Trees and Values day is that not only to we give back to nature, but we come away feeling that we have learnt something too.  Joakim and his team explained to us how to take care of forests and in particular how to prevent wild fire.  We learnt that the way wildfire is occuring in nature is changing.  Before, the peaks and troughs of a wildfire breakout could be forecast and the peak of the fire would always occur at the hottest time of day.  However, this is changing and we learnt about the wildfires in Portugal in October 2018, when the hottest part actually occured at midnight. Moreover, wildfire nowadays start so quickly and burn so strongly that when they inevitably recede they create their own currents of air, which in turn propogate the fire.

In order to prevent this happening it is very important to maintain the forest and rid it of any unecessary biomass so that in the event of a fire there would be nothing for the fire to feed off.   Since forest fires spread not only outwards but also upwards,  cutting down shrubs, bushes and smaller trees can help prevent the spread of forest fires, while also giving the healthy trees a chance to grow tall and strong by reducing the competition for light, water and nutrients.

This reduces C02 emissions for 2 reasons:

  1. It prevents forest fires, which generate a huge amount of CO2 when carbon stored within the leaves, roots and trunks is burned.
  2. When biomass is not removed from the forest but instead kept on the forest floor, it prevents the C02 from decomposing plants being released into the environment.

It was very interesting to learn that, just like humans, trees can communicate with each other too.  In fact, trees are far more alert, social, sophisticated—and even intelligent—than we thought.  Joakim explained to us an example of this – the acacia trees in Africa.  When a giraffe starts chewing acacia leaves, the tree notices the injury and emits a distress signal in the form of ethylene gas. Upon detecting this gas, neighbouring acacias start pumping tannins into their leaves, which taste bitter and stop the giraffes from eating them.  Therefore trees work in networks in order to warn and protect each other from harm.  For more information on this topic have a read of The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wihlleben.

At the end of this relaxing and educational day we shared a delicious paella together in the sun.  Everyone enjoyed this special day and we allowed our prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that is calmed by walking in nature) the chance to relax and take some well-deserved rest.

We would like to thank Joakim and everyone at Social Forest for such an interesting and educative day.  Hopefully in the future the Dalmau Masia will be restored to its former glory and, who knows – maybe TMC will one day be able to use it as a retreat.

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