Children and Trees

Phil Bennett Phil Bennett
Learn more about Phil Bennett.

I had the privilege of growing up in a rural area in the middle of England.  During the school year, I would get home from school, have a bite to eat, and head out into the local woods, fields and hedgerows.  In summertime I would spend whole days outside, with no idea what time it was, or when I last had anything to eat or drink. Tree climbing was always a part of it.  Where I grew up, English brown oak, Quercus robur and sessile oak, Quercus petraea were abundant and easily climbable, with decurrent form and branches close to the ground.  My experience of childhood had everything to do with my ultimate career choices.

My experience of the natural world in childhood, and probably some of yours too, is no longer typical for children in the USA or in England.  One factor in this is population shifts from rural to urban. In 1900 approximately 60% of the US population lived in rural areas, and 40% in urban areas.  By 2010 this had flipped to approximately 20% rural and 80% urban. Another factor is increased fear of harm coming to children who are playing outside alone, magnified by the media.  If you want to learn more, read Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods”.

As Arborists and tree workers, we are well positioned to help bridge the gap between children and the natural world.  What we do is interesting to them. I frequently see children watching me operate the chipper, or staring at me as I’m climbing a tree.

Can you take the time to talk to those kids?  Some of them might just replace you, one day.