John Crossan and fellow tree walkers walked from Achill to Westport planting native trees in schools along the way. The Tree Walk has been visiting schools for the last 20 years but this was its first visit to south and west Mayo. John Crossan began the Tree Walk as a way of introducing today’s youth to trees, their history, importance, songs and stories, and giving each pupil a tree to plant and grow.
This year 20 people of all ages joined Crossan and pushed carts and bicycles laden down with trees and camping gear the 42km from Achill to Westport. Trees were planted in 12 schools along the way and each pupil received a tree to take home and plant, meaning a total of approximately 500 native trees planted.
John began the Tree Walk as a way of sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for trees. “Ireland has deep rooted connection to trees, dating back thousands of years to a time when we had our own alphabet based on native trees, Ogham. We held trees as sacred. Maybe we need to return to these values. By planting trees in schools and giving kids trees we are reconnecting them with nature and giving them a responsibility to help protect nature.”
The Tree Walk passes on stories about trees and sing songs so it ends up being a history, science and music class all rolled into one. “The feedback from schools and pupils is always so positive and children really understand the importance of trees by the end of our visit, that’s why I’ve continued to do the Tree Walk for the past 20 years visiting a new part of Ireland each year," he continued. The Tree Walk was funded by Gluaiseacht this year and links were made with community groups along the way such as Tidy Towns, Edible Landscapes, and Westport Smarter Travel.