Copyright: <a href=''>ploutarxina / 123RF Stock Photo</a> 





Iseult Catherine O'Brien

Montessori Teacher & Supervisor   |   Volunteer Tutor 






Given a little crack in the pavement, a buddleia or a sycamore will struggle to the light!



Just because Winter is settled in, I believe parents, guardians, and carers (PGCs) should not halt walks with small children but rather, as often as possible, head out with enthusiasm.  


Daily walks are best, when possible.  


These are part of the child’s playtime, exercise, education, and socialisation, and it is important to keep them up so that a child continues to meet the people and see the objects known to him or her. 


Few people have private gardens, particularly in inner suburbia and inner city living, but that does not mean that the rest of us should be denied the glory of Nature in Autumn and Winter and the chance to share its beauty and wonder,  and  knowledge of it, with children of all ages.   We just need to get organised, booted, well-padded, and insulated. 


Hats that cover the ears and waterproof, insulated, gloves are essential, so are scarves for some, as some children and adults do not enjoy the cold air in their mouths or noses, and youngsters won't know this until they discover it outside.  If the temperature is very low, everyone should be wearing waterproof, insulated gloves, and these can be bought in sports' and outdoor activities' shops at reduced prices during the Summer sales.  Wear t-shirts with short or long sleeves, maybe two, under your fleece and outerwear.


I should be inclined to give a smear of Vaseline, or another such product, on and around the mouth and nostrils of each child, to prevent skin chaffing, if it's really quite windy or cold.  Also, if the noses start dripping because of the cold, the skin is protected.  A packet of handkerchiefs always comes in useful.


Things may get quite slippery under foot, and we should tell children this in a matter of fact way, saying "hold onto my hand"; even older children may take advantage of the offer, possibly hanging onto a belt.   Keep the advice about the paths possibly being slippery due to frost or snow, low key, we don't want children going outside feeling trepidation ~ this is an Adventure!   This is all a part of Autumn / Winter!


Depending on where you live, Autumn can be the most beautiful season of the year: the colours; the scent of loam; the crunch of leaves underfoot; the taste of blackcurrents or other in season fruit.  


Teach the children the names of the five senses well in advance, and let them learn examples at home from the aroma and taste of cooking, the feel of silky scarves, the colours of everything!


There is evidence that some children are not learning SPATIALLY, as they DO NOT GET ENOUGH TIME for real physical play, to run, and to be children, free, for at least three hours a day of exercise, however the school and the family manage to fit it in. 


Please see Section

INCREASED PHYSICAL AND OTHER CONSTRAINTS IN SCHOOL AND THE CONSEQUENCES,  in my Post, 'Child's Life Balance'containing the comments of Rae Pica, a highly regarded Early Childhood Author, Keynote Speaker, Consultant, and Broadcaster.


In Autumn on slippery leaves, and later in Winter in light frost and ice, before we may be looking at really deep snow, it's a VERY good SPATIAL exercise to try keeping  balanced on two feet when negotiating slippery pavement, other pedestrians, kerbs, steps, and other everyday things which take on a new significance as a thing to be got around, over, or between.


There will be sliding and slipping on some days, and even adults can land on their posteriors!  Make sure everyone knows that slipping and falling are part of what happens, and just to take care as much as possible.


Sometimes, in the busyness of life, we miss the obvious on our doorsteps.


In Autumn and Winter, it's best to take things slowly and take in the altered surroundings.   Trips with new walkers, or children who have not experienced more challenging conditions in reality, can be quite short at first, but still full of interest and novelty.  One hopes all the walkers have footwear with good grips or cleats on the soles. 


Once out the door and onto the path, the sense of hearing may be the first one to be engaged.  Even as the first foot plants itself on the path, a crunch may be heard.  Naturally, everyone looks down to see what went 'crunch'.  It could be a little ice or a layer of snow.  When that foot is lifted, check to see if the design of the sole has left its mark!  


The fuel emissions from most passing vehicles, which are discharged at around the height of a young child, have to be considered.  PGCs have to balance the level of harm to young children from fuel emissions against the benefits of wonder and learning, plus exercise, which children experience on their walks around the neighbourhood. 




The Dublin City Tree Strategy 2016-2020 is to be found at the end of this Article, and it gives a great deal of attention to the health benefits of trees in cities: including absorbing pollution; protecting from UV light; enhancing mental health; reducing flooding.  The Strategy document would make one wish to  fight for the trees we have, and insist on more being included in all developments, public and private. 


The health benefits of trees are extraordinary ~ particulary in city living. 



This is an opportunity to stop and notice: to recognise any  shrunken flowerheads, berries, or leaves that may remain, and to try to guess what a shrivelled specimen used to be in its Spring or Summer glory.  On any piece of wasteland, you shall see the drooping, dark, rather gloomy, eerie, heads of buddleia, which blossomed so brightly in various shades during Summer.  


Thistles give dramatic silhouettes, in their many sizes and shapes.   Also visible are the teasel heads, which have grown to ten feet tall, or more.   In Winter, their beautiful, tiny, mauve flowers have long blown away, leaving a tall, majestic plant, with a beautifully shaped flower head.    Please mind the stem - it has spikes or spurs which might tear fine gloves, or scratch your fingers.


A small child is at a perfect height to have a very good look around the small patch of earth at the base of any tree one comes across, seeming to grow out of the pavement.   Given enough time to get focused, the child shall notice the smallest ants, centipedes, millipedes, possibly the odd glimpse of a worm, and many other tiny creatures going about their business. 


These are all part of the diet of our fellow urban dwellers,  blackbirds and robins.


If it's not too cold to take a glove off for a few minutes, the child should have an opportunity to stroke the bark of the tree, compare it to the feel of Summer bark, and decide if it is like previous experiences of smooth, bumpy, rough, or cracked.  It does feel different in Winter, because the ice in tiny pockets of the bark make it smoother than at other times of the year.   Have a go, what do you think?


Don't forget to look up!  The smaller branches with sparklings of ice or snow, make an elegant latticework.  Nature has always thought of it first ~ beautiful!



Keep listening ~  block out the sound of traffic and concentrate - can you hear birdsong?   Blackbirds have one of the most recognisable warbles of all songbirds.  Some birds, like blackbirds are often stay-at-homes.  Red-winged blackbirds in northern North America winter in the southern United States, as far as about 800 miles from their breeding ranges.


Flocks of migrating Scandinavian birds may arrive in Scotland and find food and milder conditions there.  However, harsh weather in Scotland may drive the hungry birds to fly further south, to escape the constantly lowering temperatures in northern climes,  and some of them may arrive in a garden in Ireland to feed under a bird table or on the many Autumn fruits and berries that are still very plentiful.  They may carry on to North Africa if Ireland is experiencing an unusual, very harsh, Winter. 

What fortitude they have.


Most birds that migrate to warmer climates do so because their diet is mainly of nectar, which is unavailable in Winter.  Birds that live on berries and insects found in or under bark, and in the soil, are likelier to stay.


If the family has a book on local flora and fauna, with colour photographs and sketches, which can be got at very reasonable prices, you, as a family, can identify the bird and animal life, the insects, and all the trees, plants and weeds in your neighbourhood.   Weeds are only plants in the wrong place!  You might wish to download an app to your mobile to identify plants when out and about.


Go to this link to discover why leaves change colour in Autumn 


Neighbours and passers-by would be greeted by the PGCs which the child will have experienced from previous walks, he or she may be spoken to directly by these locals.  The young child has started his or her general social interaction, learning how to get to know new people, and how to greet them.  In Autumn and Winter, it's much more likely you'll stop and have a quick chat about the weather, and maybe hear some local news.


Children should be told from the first day out in Autumn and Winter, as with every season, and reminded every day, as they get ready to go outside, that they can look at everything around them, ask any questions, ask to stop to examine anything interesting looking, but never to pick something up off a pavement, from the grass or ground of a playground, a park, or from a puddle, pool, or stream, be it an naturally occurring object, or man-made. 


A simple explanation that there are 'bad types of dirt' should be sufficient for the early years.  Discussions on germs and cuts, and the basics of first-aid, can be had later.  As long as a child is well aware not to pick up anything without pointing it out to the responsible adult first, things should go fine. 

When the child is older, he or she shall be listing for you the safety rules to be followed!


As soon as they get home, have taken off their layers, washed their hands, and taken a drink and snack, the child and adult can take out chunky crayons and paper, and remembering what they saw, draw the plant life, the glorious and vibrant leaf colours, insects, and the bark of the trees. 

Maybe some of the branches of trees had a glisten of ice or snow; how would you draw ice?!


Plus, he or she may have made a first ever footprint in snow or ice.  If so, perhaps you would clean the sole of the footwear, produce some poster paint, and help the child cover the sole using a piece of old sponge or a rag to help pat the paint evenly onto the sole.  Choosing an A4 printer sheet of paper, or anything that suits you, you plant the boot or shoe down firmly and hold it steady in place for a few moments before lifting it off, while holding the paper down. 


With luck, you shall have a perfect copy of the mark left in the snow.  Write the date of this 'great step' on the paper, and if the child can write his or her name, have it appended when the paint has dried, otherwise, you write the child's name on the sheet. 

Poster paint wipes off very easily with a damp cloth.  


Perhaps, you could use a double page sheet of the day's newspaper, and put a few different coloured prints down, in a curving trail.



This would be an important record on the child's bedroom wall, placed at approximately one metre / three feet above floor height, or whatever height suits the child's eye level.


This was a BIG adventure for a 12-18 month old child, and older.  He or she would be full of news of the walk and who they met and spoke to, and have the drawings and maybe a foot print to show, and to tell about and show whoever comes in that evening.


As the child grows, he or she shall become a strong walker, fitter than many children of the same age.  Walks will become longer, opening new vistas, expanding experiences, and broadening the information base. 


From easy to detect colours during Spring, Summer, and Autumn, when the child learns the names of the nettles, daisies, thistles, blue speedwell, dandelions, and buttercups, and will notice changes in leaf colour of the various trees in the neighbourhood in Autumn, learning their names, and the types of trees.  Winter offers more discreet colours, but there is still plenty going on, one just has to look more closely. 


If you do look closely, you'll see that the seed heads and dried and shrunken flower heads are beautiful shades of burgundy, claret, aubergine, olive green, deep red and russets and rusty!


Have a look at your local flora and fauna book, to prepare yourself for what you may find, which you can show to your child.  The more you and the children know what to expect, the more exciting and informed your discoveries.



Such a child will be learning in a visual, aural, tactile, sensual, spatial, kinesthetic, and intellectual way, about Nature in his or her world, and also learning a great deal more on a social and a subliminal level. 


This is a very rich experience for any child and, indeed, for the accompanying adult.


The sensations felt on the face and hands, through the seasons, as the child interacts with weather and Nature, grows in strength, knowledge, and appreciation of beauty and the cycle of life, are gifts that are never lost or forgotten.








Due to most people’s work commitments, which may now be more onerous, many PGCs are working and commuting longer hours than ever before, and bad weather can extend these journeys.  Perhaps, outdoor trips are rare from Monday to Friday, although plans and preparations CAN be made in the evenings for what the family will do over the weekend.


Anticipation is a GREAT part of the pleasure!


Examining the family's book on local flora and fauna, with colour photographs and sketches, before a planned trip, should help everyone learn what berries or nuts are in season, and what animals may be about, so that the family members can keep an eye out for these on their travels.


Many trees will be completely bare of leaves, and can be identified best at this time of year.


Sketches are the best for helping to identify a tree by its outline shape and the way the branches align themselves, something one could never see at any other time of year.


Drawing a silhouette of a such a tree is a beautiful exercise for an older child, just using pencil and paper, and would further reinforce the information learnt from the viewing and identification.


Someone in the family may enjoy taking photographs and this would enable recording the great trees and everyone busy at whatever they are doing.  Anyone with a mobile or cell phone can take photographs.  Smaller children may be allowed to take a few photographs with mobiles, given assistance.  Of course, drawing is not impossible, but it can be difficult wearing bulky gloves. 


However, taking a note of colours by drawing a good sized blob of each, would help with remembering the images when it comes to help with drawings for the Map, and may be possible when wearing bulky gloves - it's worth a go!


Any photographs can be attached to a large sheet of paper (see below),  with drawing details, added to it after every trip, plus some trophies - like skeleton or web shaped twiglets, thorny looking chestnut casings, and glistening empty snail shells.    


Winter makes everything magic!


Children, from around 2.5 years upward, can be responsible for helping plan what shall be required for the weekend trip, collecting the equipment needed, and packing it in rucksacks / backpacks and other bags, one for everyone to carry, except for very small children.


This is a very useful part of developing planning skills and taking on responsibility.


Unlike most other outings in the year, Autumn and Winter visits to local parks, are mostly about engaging full on with whatever wind, snow or ice is around ~ whatever Nature throws at us!


Surprize and imagination are at the heart of everyone's play.

There is no wrong way to do it!


Building, with fallen branches and twigs or snow, from snowmen to fortresses, to fairy houses, to tunnels, and any odd looking construction, is a blast!


Some people are inclined to be precise, and measure out the paces, others go with the flow and the feel.  Playing with fallen branches and twigs and snow gives children of all learning styles an opportunity to have an enjoyable and fulfilling experience.


Aural, Visual, Kinesthetic and other learning styles are all accommodated very happily in a snow covered park.


Everything seems wonderful when the snow is here! 


Depending on where we live, it may never snow, it may snow sometimes, or it may snow very deep.


Where I live, it snows sometimes, which is becoming less and less likely, with the changes to our global weather.  Maybe because it's rare enough here, we go bonkers if we get three inches!    Who needs sleds? 


As children, we went to our local park with big sheets of dismantled corrugated cardboard boxes.


We climbed the hill, which looked like a mountain when we were small, grabbed the front of the cardboard very tightly, and just took off - little steering, no speed control, and we stopped when we feel off at the bottom. 


Then, we raced back up the hill, and did it all over again!

 Those are the days we remember.




On the day of the trip, the children shall need to pack:


  • A bottle of water to be carried by an adult, plus unbreakable cups that can take hot drinks;


  • A thermos flask containing maybe hot chocolate for the children and another with coffee or tea for the adults and older offspring;


  • A mixture of semi-dried fruit;


  • Some warmed potato cakes or scones, well buttered. 


You may wish to have a small selection:


  • Paper tissues;
  •  A small tube of aloe vera gel;
  •  Or a small bottle of Pure Bergamot Oil (which has anti-bacterial, antibiotic, and anti-tetanus properties, and speeds healing);
  •  Or Pure Lime Oil (with its its excellent antibacterial qualities).   


Don't overload yourselves!


Lime Essential Oil can be applied to minor wounds, scrapes, and frost burns, to help speed up the healing process and prevent harmful bacteria from taking hold.   You can apply the Oil directly to the wound or add a few drops to a compress and apply the compress to the skin.   

It is good to have this at home, to deal with any freeze-burns or cut and scratches.


Please remember to bring a bag for all the empty bottles, wrapping and other rubbish generated; which shall be brought home for proper disposal.   The children shall learn, first hand, lessons on what material is recyclable, and what must go in the 'waste' bin and the'compost' bin,  as they help unpack the bag when back home.


Each family member has food and drink likes and dislikes, and it would be a good exercise for children of around two-and-a-half years, and older, to consider these matters, and any other items they think may be necessary to add to the packing for the trip out. 


These ideas should be discussed with everyone, and the children should be listened to with attention; they have put thought and effort into the ideas for everyone.


This planning would be a serious matter for the children, and the reasons for their choices should be listened to closely, interest shown in their thought processes, and acknowledgement given to interesting or novel and useful ideas.




Hedgehog on the hunt in an urban setting. 123RF stock photograph.



Engaging with Nature in a city is not expensive, everyone can get involved no matter how young or old.   This is a way for a family to discover the world of Nature in their neighbourhood, to learn together, while relaxing in each other's company.  


These weekend expeditions can be both silly and serious.  Children get to spend time working and playing with their family, and strengthening their sense of belonging.  


These days feed the family’s imagination, on their privately discovered 'Continent', leading the way to bigger expeditions as the children grow.


We are learning to become aware of how our actions might affect the balance of Nature in our neighbournood. 


Hedgehogs will be hibernating now under ordinary looking piles and small branches, twigs, and leaves, they often lean against the base of a tree in a park, or in a quiet corner of a building, where detritus is blown.   Please be very careful to let everyone know not to go poking with sticks at tempting piles of leaves. 


Hedgehogs live off their fat when hibernating and their body activities go down to a very low heartbeat and breathing.   If they are awoken, it takes a good deal of their carefully stored energy supplies to get back to sleep.  When they come out of hibernation, they are very undernourished, and need to eat immediately.   It's a very tight margin, we cannot mess with their life balance.


When not hibernating, a hedgehog travels approximately a half-mile-square each night, eating slugs and snails.  They are voracious eaters, and if you know where they might be located at night, you are most likely to find them by following the sound of their loud slurpy-gobbling when eating!


Hedgehogs should not be given bread and milk, as they are very bad for them.   If it has been a very poor Summer, and you hear that there may be a threat to hedgehog numbers, they do best on dog food.  The local foxes will want their share; hedgehogs are used to having to fight, in their own way, to survive.



Broken branches, found on the ground, can be brought home for bark and leaf rubbings.    In season, seed heads can be gathered and opened at home to examine the seeds, and maybe try growing some and see how you do - it's best to have identified the plant before sowing seeds, as it may be poisonous to humans and other animals.


Photographs can be added to the Maps.  As the seasons change, so will the material to be discovered.  


Snail shells come in many sizes from tiny to quite big ~ and they come in a gorgeous array of colours.  If you see the beauty in the shape, whorls, and colours of snail shells, you will know you have come to appreciate Nature. 


Take a few of the shells home, let them soak for a little while  in a little washing-up liquid and tepid water, well mixed, then wash them very gently and carefully, rinse them, and let them air dry on paper or a dishcloth.  When they are clean and dry - their colours will sing out!




Copyright: dzejmsdin / 123RF Stock Photo



I believe that if parents and children get up early even ONE morning over the weekend, maybe every fortnight if weekly isn't possible, dress for the weather, no matter how chilly, and head to the nearest park, or just a small piece of green space, now covered in leaves ~ fresh or tinder dry, snow or frost, or both, whatever is available, a great many wonderful things can happen!


They would greet the people they pass in their neighbourhood on the way to their destination, having a good snoop in gardens and window boxes en route. 

A smallish space can become a Continent, when viewed with an open mind, getting down to ground level! 


Adults and children examine the terrain, noting rocks and stones, puddles iced over, and drips of ice or sprinkling of snow adorning some grasses and old seed heads, shriveled berries, shrubs and plants, trees, old, tattered, blossoms, seed pods, worms and worm casts, ants, empty snail shells, spiders and their webs, beetles, evidence of bird and fox activity everything audible and visible!   


Everyone can make personal rough notes or drawings, or memorise the look of an item, even the youngest will have their offerings.



"The London Plane tree is widely considered to be the world's most reliable city tree.


"The Norway Maple  "The very shade that endears the tree to some planters is bad news to others ... The resulting shade can seem as refreshing as a forest glen or as sombre as a Norwegian Winter - even menacing, depending on temperament or the neighbourhood situation."


The evergreen Irish Yew can be seen growing in many graveyards up and down the countryside, and in town and city centres.  There have been studies done on it and it proves to have anti-carcinogenic properties ~ unique to the Irish Yew!  


The Horse Chestnut and Chestnut trees are very common on urban streets around Ireland, Western Europe, and many other places.  


The Oak, the magestic tree of Europe, which can live to a great age.




Many people do NOT like spiders in the house, and as the weather gets colder they are inclined to come indoors.  A good way of keeping spiders out is to collect chestnuts (conkers) and leave them in bowls around windows, doors,  and anywhere the spiders may find ingress. 


Spiders do not like the smell of conkers! 


If you have dogs, please take care, as some react badly to eating conkers; ask your vet. 



Another way to use chestnuts could involve the children making presents.   

An adult uses an awl-type needle, or a slim corkscrew, and bores a hole through the centre of each chestnut, and then the children string the conkers on strong brightly coloured string or ribbon with a big knot at the bottom, using a big, blunt-topped needle, spacing the conkers a fair few inches apart, and then knotting the thread or ribbon under each conker as it is slipped on, and into place.


When finished making the length of conkers,  and adding a good sized loop tied at the top, the children could then  tie a ribbon bow on top of each conker  in various bright colours.   These could be hung by a loop beside windows, or beside the back and front doors.


Don't worry if some of the chestnuts break, they can be the ones put in the bowls on window sills.  The smell of the chestnut would be stronger from these broken pieces.


Some children and adults are very uncomfortable with or afraid of the idea of a spider in their bedrooms, especially at night, and having a personal anti-spider device hanging beside their beds would surely lead to more peaceful nights, and make a special, lovely present.


The above information in lime green was sourced at:



[All colouring of quoted texts in this Post was added by me, ICOB.]





The most exotic plants can thrive in a city centre because the temperature of a city is usually a couple of degrees higher than the surrounding environment, due to pollution and light levels.


When buddleia was first brought to Europe by plant hunters, it was kept in glass-houses as it was thought to be very delicate.   In fact, it is a great addition to almost any wayside piece of land, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, and it is a beneficial pollinator.  The bushes are known as "The Butterfly Bush", and have conical flower spikes that bloom in intense hues of pink, orange, red, and purple, throughout the Summer.  


They will grow on any bit of rubble strewn land ~ so much for delicate!  


They have beautiful, dark, eerie, profiles in Autumn and Winter.


On arriving home, all can peel off and put away their outdoor wear, wash their hands, and have a favourite drink.


THEN, everyone gets down on the floor with cushions and a very large piece of paper spread flat, onto which they plan out the Map, including everything they saw and noted, adding the pages of each person's drawings.  With the help of the family book on local flora and fauna with colour photographs, identifications can be made, and lore and medicines used in the past, from some of the plants, can be investigated, along with the life cycles of insects and spiders, foxes, and any other creatures observed. 


Until you look at your photographs, you won't know what images you may have captured ~ there could be the paw prints of foxes in the snow!



Enjoy yourselves!

Regards, Iseult

Iseult Catherine O'Brien


Please also see the Companion Article ~


 ~ the Winter Edition, for more information on Nature - on the wing, or on four paws, including foxes living and thriving in cities.



If you have any comments, positive or negative, I should welcome hearing your views.  If you find any errors or wish to disagree with any of the above, please let me know.


If I quote a person, group, organisation, or establishment, I do my very best to source the material quoted, and to attribute it properly.  If I cannot satisfy myself I have found the author or speaker who voiced a quote, I resist using it, no matter how tasty a bite!  If I refer in passing to views expressed by others, I attribute the views even if they have not been given verbatim in the text.


I work on a basis of goodwill and good intentions.  I shall make errors, being human, and when I do, I apologise now, and should always welcome a correction, which I would insert in the relevant Post prominently, in clear unambiguous text and type, repeating the apology. That's is the best I can do!


Dublin City Tree Strategy 2016-2020

A foraging squirrel in its new natural habitat. 123RF stock photograph.


Dublin City Tree Strategy 2016-2020


A planted tree is a promise. 

It is through growth over time that a tree can fulfil its potential to deliver its full range of benefits and, through these, a return on investment.  As such, trees have a very different life cycle to most other public assets: their value increases with time.


Importance of Trees in the City

Trees are a valuable functional component of the urban landscape – they also make a significant contribution to people’s health and quality of life.   Within the City, trees clean the air, provide natural flood defences, mask noise and promote a general sense of wellbeing.   Within the higher density areas of the City trees have considerable beneficial impacts on the lives of those who do not have immediate access to other more traditional types of open space.   Trees, for example, can add colour, interest and beauty to our busy streets.   Within the City, urban trees contribute significantly towards many environmental and social benefits, such as journey quality, biodiversity, temperature regulation, and habitat.


Within the city, trees clean the air, provide natural flood defences, mask noise and promote a general sense of well-being.


Health and Well-being

Trees play an important role in reducing the risk of skin cancers by providing shade from harmful ultraviolet radiation.   Our stress and illness levels are often lower where trees are planted, as trees provide psychological refreshment and a sense of well-being through softening the urban environment.   As trees mature, they create character and a sense of place and permanence whilst releasing scents and aromas that create a positive emotional response.  Research published in 'Horizon' – the research magazine of the European Union - has shown that exposure to trees helps to prolong life and improve mental health (Roberts, J and Boorman E, 2015).


Habitat Provision

Dublin’s trees are a key component of the valuable urban habitat and make up a significant and highly visible component of the capital’s biodiversity.   Some species in the Capital subject to legal protection are strongly associated with trees, such as bats and birds (many of which nest in trees and shrubs).   Trees and shrubs also provide food for many animal, plant and fungi species, from non-vascular plants, such as mosses, to insects, birds and mammals.


Pollinating insects provide ecosystem services in urban areas by pollinating flowers and producing food.  The diverse nature of urban land use offers a wide range of pollinator habitats, but trees offer an important source of pollen at particular times of year when other sources are unavailable.


There is potential for the City’s tree stock to develop in the future, and provide greater environmental and social benefits for future generations.   As the amount of healthy leaf area equates directly to the provision of benefits, future management of the tree stock is important to ensure canopy cover levels continue to increase.   This may be achieved via new planting and the protection and management of existing trees to develop into a stable, healthy, age and species diverse, multi-layered tree population.


The successful retention of suitable trees is a benchmark of sustainable development.


Rainfall runs off land and buildings at such a rate that it is unable to drain away in streams, rivers, drains or sewers.   Large urban areas are particularly at risk because the coverage of impermeable surfaces such as buildings, pavements, roads and parking areas means that rain water cannot permeate into the ground or be absorbed by plants and trees or stored in ditches and ponds.   In addition, this runoff can quickly become polluted, as the rain effectively washes urban streets and buildings carrying high concentrations of hydrocarbons, metals, dust, litter and organic materials into local streams and rivers where the concentration can cause serious pollution to those watercourses.   Climate change predictions suggest more intense rainfall events during summer months, and generally wetter conditions through winter months, which will intensify the problems.   During rainfall a proportion of the precipitation is intercepted by vegetation (trees and shrubs) whilst a further proportion reaches the ground.   The root systems of urban trees promote infiltration and water storage in the soil.   Together this slows the passage of stormwater into the piped drainage network.


Ecosystem Services provided by Urban Trees

"Trees play a crucial role in capturing pollutants and particulates from the air.   Street trees can significantly improve air quality, which can in turn provide health benefits, if planned, planted and maintained carefully."


Air Pollution Removal

Trees play a crucial role in capturing pollutants and particulates from the air.   Street trees can significantly improve air quality, which can in turn provide health benefits, if planned, planted and maintained carefully.   The problems caused by poor air quality are well known, ranging from human health impacts to damage to buildings, and smog.   Trees make a significant contribution to improving air quality by reducing air temperature (thereby lowering ozone levels), directly removing pollutants from the air, absorbing them through the leaf surfaces and by intercepting particulate matter (eg, smoke, pollen, ash and dusts).   Trees can also indirectly help to reduce energy demand in buildings; resulting in fewer emissions from gas and oil fired burners, excess heat from air conditioning units and reduced demand from power plants.


Carbon Storage and Sequestration

Carbon storage relates to the carbon currently held in trees’ tissue (roots, stem, and branches), whereas carbon sequestration is the estimated amount of carbon removed annually by trees.   Trees can help mitigate climate change by sequestering atmospheric carbon as part of the carbon cycle.   Since about 50% of wood by dry weight is comprised of carbon, tree stems and roots can store up carbon for decades or even centuries.   Over the lifetime of a single tree, several tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide can be absorbed.


Dublin City Tree Strategy 2016-2020


All colouring of quoted texts above, including increasing font sizes on headings and other sections, in this Post were added by me, ICOB.