Trees for Cities and Forest Schools Birmingham
Report by Elliot Parker , Climate Reporter, UNA Coventry
Trees for Cities is a UK based charity that works on both a national and international level to reduce the impact of climate change by planting trees. Both domestically and internationally between 2018-2019, Trees for Cities planted 207,986 trees across 22 UK cities and 8 African cities, with a body of 10,721 volunteers to reach this goal. As climate change is a truly international issue, Trees for Cities are pushing for global change whilst also educating the youth and planting more trees domestically to reverse climate change and set up a greener future with cleaner air.
Currently, much of Trees for Cities work is concentrated within the sphere of London and Greater London, with some projects being carried out in collaboration with organisations local to other areas of the UK. However, with support from the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Woodland Trust, it is hopeful that their projects, such as Trees for Schools, can be provided a bigger platform nationwide, giving children more access to the outside world, educating them about respect for the environment and the importance of a green future.
Trees for Cities have been carrying out a project called “edible playgrounds” since 2009. This involves children growing fruit and vegetables on their school playground, granting them access to the outdoors and knowledge of sustainability and healthy living. This has reaped results and has boosted the enthusiasm and engagement of the children and their parents alike. In their annual report of 2018-2019, Trees for Cities have stated they want to reach 100 edible playgrounds over the next ten years.
Nevertheless, as Trees for Cities are working on expanding their operational reach to all over the UK, it is important to highlight the work of charities of the Midlands that are contributing to the battle against climate change. Like Trees for Cities, Forest Schools Birmingham are attempting to tackle climate issues by educating children, helping those with special needs feel more connected with the natural world and also by planting trees as well as preserving and enhancing green spaces. Forest Schools Birmingham was established in 2004 and has planted over 50,000 trees in the West Midlands to date. They have recently entered into a partnership with Trees for Cities and have created 10 new “Urban Forest Schools,” (these are schools within densely populated areas in which the children are exposed to substantial amounts of pollution) and will plant 5,000 trees across the West Midlands. They will maximise the diversity of the trees by having a range of species, from Hazel, Silver Birch, Rowan all the way to Larch trees.
Likewise, Forest Schools Birmingham also provides opportunities for schools to engage children in growing organic fruit and vegetables through their ‘edible schools’ programme and to embark on tree planting exercises with children. Primary education is the most crucial part of a child’s education; therefore by engaging these children at such a young age it provides a platform of hope and promise that the future generations will pay greater notice to keeping the natural environment clean, green and free from pollutants.
Furthermore, both Trees for Cities and Forest Schools Birmingham have collaborated again for a project in the West Midlands titled “Velvet Orchard.” This project involved the local community aiding the two charities to clear out a site that had been used for anti-social dumping and fly-tipping and in its place plant a “beautiful, traditional orchard.” According to the Forest Schools Birmingham website, the project was a “roaring success having transformed the area,” and it is now used as a meeting place for local residents.
Planting trees and educating people about the impact of human activity on the climate and the importance of clean air is paramount in the battle against climate change. This is both a domestic and international struggle against the forces of nature, and through human action the damage caused by climate change can be reduced. Charities such as Trees for Cities and Forest Schools are vital to raising awareness, providing a platform for children and members of the local community to understand and learn about the importance of natural preservation and steps that can be taken to reduce the human impact on the natural world.
It is important to note that both Trees for Cities and Forest Schools Birmingham accept volunteers and donations for their cause. The importance of involvement in such a cause cannot be overstated. There are links below to the respective websites of these organisations if you are interested in volunteering or donating to the work they undertake.
https://www.edibleschools.com/ – the programme established by Forest Schools Birmingham to engage children with growing fruit and vegetables.