Who do we think we are? Paul Wood

We ask all the Urban Tree Festival contributors to tell us about themselves and the events they are running. This is the fourth in an ongoing series.

Nominative Determinism: The aptly named author of ‘London’s Street trees’, Paul Wood

I’m Paul Wood, aka @TheStreetTree, and the author of ‘London’s Street Trees: a Field Guide to the Urban Forest’, one of the Guardian’s 2017 Nature Books of the Year. I’ve always been interested in trees, and I have a particular fascination for street trees – those often unnoticed trees we pass every day that form a significant part of the urban forest. I love sharing my knowledge of London’s urban forest and a guided tour around our leafy streets with me will, I hope, help you look at our great, green city in a whole new way!

To join one of three Urban Forest Explorations led by Paul, pledge as little as £10 on our Crowdfunder page.

Q. What events are you leading during the Urban tree Festival?

I’m leading three Urban Forest explorations starting with an evening circular walk from Hampstead Heath Overground station on the 18th at 6:30.

The following day it’s Peckham Rye station at 10:30 and another circular route.

And on Sunday morning, we meet outside the Clarence on Stoke Newington Church Street at 10:30 from where we will meander through the streets of N16 ending at London Wildlife Trust’s Woodberry Wetlands nature reserve.

Q. Why are you supporting the Urban Tree Festival?

I’m always keen to get involved with initiatives that raise awareness of trees – especially their natural history and the incredible work they do for us, and if there’s room for my specialist subject – street trees – then I’m in! One of the things that I really enjoy about leading tree walks is meeting all the interesting and inquisitive people who want to find out more, share their own knowledge, take an unusual look at an unfamiliar part of town,or just want to stretch their legs.

Q. Why are urban trees so important to you?

I was lucky enough to grow up close to the countryside and I was always particularly interested by woodlands since I was a kid. When I moved to London, I was intrigued to discover all sorts of unusual trees planted on the street, some of which I couldn’t identify. As I started to understand more about them, what they all are and where they all come from, I realised I had the immense privilege to live in a hugely diverse and fascinating urban forest.

Take a Closer Look: A Golden Rain Tree in flower on Stoke Newington Church Street

Q. Tell us about the locations for your Urban Tree Festival events

On my Friday urban forest exploration around Hampstead, we’ll see lots of mature trees including what is possibly London’s tallest street tree, a huge old London Plane, as well as at least a dozen other species.

On Saturday morning in Peckham, we’ll be looking at the remarkable diversity of trees in this temperate enclave including an unusual Persian Ironwood, American Sweetgums and one of London’s finest Birch avenues.

On Sunday morning, meet me on Stoke Newington Church Street for a tour of Hackney’s exotic urban forest which contains so much arboreal diversity, you could be forgiven for thinking you are in a botanical garden. We’ll see rarities including Bee Bee trees, a Wild Service tree, Paper Mulberries and a Handkerchief Tree among many others.

Q. Which event that isn’t your own would you like to join?

I’m particularly keen to join Peter Coles’ Stalking King James I’s mulberries at 12:30 on Sunday 20th. It’s a chance to take a close look at some very old examples of this enigmatic species and it’s in a part of town – Deptford and Greenwich – which I would like to get to know better. I wish it was on at a different time though – my own tour finishes in Stoke Newington at the same time this one starts!


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