Writing about trees: a new resource
The problem/cause: Deforestation and the role of trees
Between 2015 and 2020, the rate of deforestation was estimated at 10 million hectares per year. The area of primary forest worldwide has decreased by over 80 million hectares since 1990.
Deforestation is one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide. When trees are cut down, much of the carbon stored within them escapes into the air, especially if the wood is burned. For example, in 2012, deforestation contributed to four billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions to the global total of 41 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. Research estimates that if we stop deforestation, we would reduce our annual emissions by about 10%.
In addition to this, planting new trees can boost local biodiversity, improve water availability, prevent soil erosion, and shade and shelter homes to reduce energy costs.
Research has proven that spending time around trees can improve mental health and give people a sense of well-being.
In conjunction with other steps, tree conservation can have a positive impact on the environment.
What you can do: Write poetry about the trees in your locality and share them to raise awareness about the importance of trees.
Spend time with a tree: Pick a tree near your house. Stroke its bark. Breathe in its scent. Gaze at its leaves and branches. Spend time with it, ruminating on your and your community's relationship with the tree.
Find out more: If possible, find out more about the tree. Find out when the tree was planted or how old it is, and whether there are any local stories or tales about the tree. You may even use the internet to dig up some facts about how that tree species contributes to the environment.
Read: Before starting to write, you can read some poems about trees. Here are some famous ones.
Get writing: Here are some tips to get you started.
Experiment with form: Consider writing a list poem delineating the functions of the tree, or a haiku or a sonnet praising the tree. You can also write a shape poem. Find out more about shape poems here. Before picking a form, think carefully about how the form of the poem would complement its subject and meaning.
Be specific: Use imagery, figurative language, and sound devices such as alliteration, onomatopoeia, and assonance to evoke the readers' senses. Use sensory language to describe how the tree's bark feels, how the rustle of its leaves sounds, how it smells, and so on.
Take a look at this poem by Talulah Quinto. The speaker uses the maple tree as a way to explore their identity. Can you use the tree you have chosen as a symbol or a metaphor to explore another theme?
Write the poem from the perspective of the tree. What message might it have for the people in your locality or for human beings in general? Think not only about what the tree has to say, but also about how the tree will say it. Ask yourself: If the tree could speak, what kind of words and sounds would it use? For instance, you may want to include sibilants to capture the rustling of the leaves or hard consonant sounds to portray the snapping of twigs.
5. Share and collaborate: After editing and revising your poem, share it with the world!
You may want to write the poem on a card, sticky note, or bookmark and put it up near the tree.
Alternatively, you can share the poem on your locality's social media platforms.
Write your poem on postcards and mail them to your neighbours and relatives.
You may also consider collaborating with other young people in your community to write poems about local trees, share them, and create a collective movement!
Lastly, consider emailing your poetry to us at email@example.com. We would love to see your work!
How was your experience of undertaking this project? Tell us in the comments below and please like and share this resource.