One of the inspirations for our work at Green Light Trust is Jean Giono’s short story The Man Who Planted Trees.
The story tells of how, over 40 years, shepherd Elzéard Bouffier transformed a barren and lifeless landscape into a rich oasis of life. Jean Giono’s hope was that his story would encourage a global reforestation movement to rejuvenate and replenish one of our most precious natural resources.
Since The Man Who Planted Trees was written, awareness and understanding of the importance of trees, woodlands and forests has risen considerably. But 60 years on from its publication there is still a lot to be done. Globally, deforestation continues to be a serious issue. In England the last 60 years have seen a steady increase in the area of woodland. Sixty years ago woodland covered about 6 per cent of England’s land area; now it covers about 10 per cent and the government wants that to increase to 12 per cent by the year 2060.
Green Light Trust has been playing its part to help achieve this gradual transformation. Over the last 10 years we have helped people to plant tens of thousands of trees and create many new woodlands across the East of England. These woodlands are now providing valuable habitats for wildlife, enhancing local landscapes and have become places for people to visit, enjoy and learn more about nature and its role in our lives.
Looking forward, here at Green Light Trust we intend to maintain the momentum and plant more trees and create more new woodlands. Helping communities to establish and maintain their own woodlands is an essential part of our work. Planting and managing woodlands brings local people together, and the stunning environment that is created and enjoyed generates a feeling of pride and ownership amongst the community.
What will our countryside look like in another 60 years? And, what would Jean Giono say if he were able to see the transformation? He might feel that the movement he set out to inspire had taken root. And, like Elzéard Bouffier’s young trees, he would probably also say that they need to be nurtured and treated with respect.
Over the years his story was published under several different titles. Perhaps the one that best sums up Green Light Trust’s inspiration is The Man Who Planted Hope and Reaped Happiness. And if you’re looking for some inspiration then seek out a copy of the story – it’s readily available – and spend an hour with Elzéard Bouffier.