Schools get involved in tree-planting
Published on Monday, December 9, 2019
SCHOOLS in Leicester have been planting native tree species in parks and open spaces to provide more places for wildlife to cope with our changing climate.
Pupils and teachers from Scraptoft Valley Primary School helped to plant a community orchard on 27 November to mark National Tree Week (23 Nov-1 Dec).
They were joined by Leicester City Council parks staff and representatives from Coles Nursery, which donated 14 fruit trees for the orchard.
National Tree Week marked the start of the winter tree-planting season and two primary schools have also teamed up with the Woodland Trust and city council parks and conservation staff to plant more trees.
Last week (on 3 Dec), pupils from Montrose Primary School, in Aylestone, planted more native species including hazel, blackthorn, crab apple and wild cherry at Montrose Open Space, close to their school. The planting will help to improve the habitat for birds, small mammals and insects.
They also planted 30 additional trees in their school grounds.
And in Knighton Park on Friday 6 December, 90 schoolchildren from Evington Valley Primary School gathered for a mass planting of 210 saplings to create an edible hedgerow that will link to other areas of biodiversity value, as well as taking part in environmental learning activities.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation, said: “The wildlife in our city is going to have to work harder to survive in the future. The high temperatures we saw last summer followed by one of our wettest autumns has meant some areas are not accessible to wildlife for part of the year.
“We’re really pleased that so many local schools are prioritising practical, hands-on environmental learning in this way and working with us to plant community orchards and trees.
“These schools are supporting us in our commitment to increase the diversity of tree planting, as outlined in our tree strategy.
“I’d like to thank Coles and the Woodland Trust too for supporting these events and helping us to maintain and improve our parks and open spaces as urban havens of biodiversity.”
Sally Ikeringill, Trees for Schools project officer at the Woodland Trust, said: “The Woodland Trust is delighted to help Evington Valley and Montrose primary schools get so many trees in the ground. Trees play a pivotal role in the fight against climate change, cleaning our air, storing carbon and producing oxygen, and that’s why we need them like never before. We hope as many people as possible will follow the example being set in Leicester and plant trees for all our futures.”
Vince Edwards, customer development manager at Coles Nurseries, said: “We’re pleased to be in partnership with Leicester City Council’s parks services again to offer our support to this project. The planting of trees is a great way for all of us to leave a lasting legacy for generations to come. The efforts of the pupils in planting the trees should encourage all of us to join in similar schemes.”
Helen O’Brien, senior nature conservation officer at Leicester City Council, said: “We want to create more linkages by planting trees and hedgerows which will provide corridors for our wildlife. Getting the local schools involved helps to raise awareness of how important these areas will be in the future”.
This is one of a number of actions being carried out by the city council to tackle the climate crisis.
Experts now predict that unless drastic action is taken, we are less than 12 years away from global heating becoming irreversible, with catastrophic results. In response, Leicester City Council declared a climate emergency in February 2019.
Local initiatives such as creating more cycle tracks in the city, improving bus services, setting up a renewable energy company, installing more solar panels on council buildings and promoting take-up of electric vehicles are already under way.
The council also plans to consult on charging employers with parking spaces and investing this income in schemes to further reduce transport emissions. With Government support, the city council could be on track to be carbon neutral before 2030.
To read the city council’s tree strategy, visit leicester.gov.uk/treestrategy