Tu bishvat
Tu B’Shevat is the Hebrew date specified as the new year for trees. Trees are vital. As the biggest plants on the planet, they give us oxygen, store carbon, stabilise the soil and give life to the world’s wildlife, providing them with habitats and nutrients to survive. They also provide us with the materials for tools and shelter.

Trees play a major part in slowing the pace of climate change. However, the mass destruction of trees (through deforestation) sacrifices the long term benefits that trees provide us with for a short term gain. About 17% of the Amazon Rainforest has been destroyed over the past 50 years, and consequently resulting in a loss of biodiversity. Deforestation also increases greenhouse gas emissions, disrupts the water cycle, increases soil erosion and decreases the natural beauty of a landscape. As greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, global warming increases (otherwise known as climate change). The main cause of deforestation is overpopulation in urban cities and newly developing countries which leads to increasing pressure for forest exploitation – conversion of forestlands for agricultural and infrastructural purposes. Deforestation affects the people and animals in its surrounding area as well as the wider world. The loss of clean water and biodiversity from all forests could have many effects we can’t foresee, touching even your morning cup of coffee. However, there is hope. Therefore for consumers, it makes sense to examine the products and meats you buy, looking for sustainably produced sources when you can. Movements across the globe are underway to preserve existing forest ecosystems and restore lost tree cover. For example, in Israel, there are organised trips to plant trees which could be in name of a memory or occasion. I have done this myself whilst over in Israel for my cousin’s barmitzvah. In this way, memories can be deeply rooted in the soils of Israel whilst also benefitting the land.

Looking at how our planet is in need of help from us, I have changed my ways and become a lot more environmentally friendly. I’ve stopped using plastic water bottles, attempt to recycle always and even buy second hand clothing that’s sustainable. Being educated on this subject has helped a lot and the world would benefit greatly if we all did a little bit more to help. – Lottie Blankstone, Muchana.