Last Saturday (2 December 2017) national charity, Trees for Cities, working in partnership with Leeds City Council, rounded off a busy National Tree Week by planting the first of 13,000 trees at Old Run Road playing fields in Belle Isle, to create diverse urban woodland which will breathe new life into the local community.
This area of green space is bordered by the busy M621 motorway, a large industrial area, residential housing and a secondary academy. The trees will improve connectivity, linking two areas of mature woodland and add important diversity to the tree population in terms of both age and species. The trees will also form a buffer for the school and housing, helping screen noise and mitigating air pollution from the motorway and industrial area.
The planting day saw local volunteers, Cllrs Judith Blake, Paul Truswell, Kim Groves and the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Jane Dowson, all come together to plant the new trees, highlighting the important relationship our neighbourhoods have with their trees and green spaces.
A volunteer at the planting day said:
“The best thing about planting trees is creating habitat for wildlife and people!”
The project is being delivered through a partnership between Trees for Cities and Leeds City Council, and coincides with the local ‘Love Where You Live’ campaign, which promotes community pride and cohesion to make Belle Isle and Middleton a safer, cleaner and happier place to be.
Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“It is great to be able to join in with people around the country planting trees, which not only make a difference to the air we breathe, but also makes the area a nicer place to live, helping with wider health and economic benefits. We know trees also have a role to play in flood prevention, something the city is encouraging on a wider basis.
“We’ve worked closely with people from around the area to make sure the trees are in the right place, linking with areas used for playing fields and helping shield schools and houses from noise and pollution.”
Belle Isle’s re-energised woodland has been made possible thanks to generous support from Mothercare, who have donated the proceeds of charging 5p for carrier bags to Trees for Cities. This year, as part of the partnership, Trees for Cities will also build an Edible Playground at a primary school in Watford, plant fruit trees to create community orchards, woodland saplings to enhance school grounds as a resource for outdoor learning, sensory plants and trees to create a therapeutic green space as part of a hospital centre to counsel bereaved parents and families, and large standard trees which will add important diversity to green spaces across Nottingham and Bradford. These projects will benefit the environment and help to reduce the impact of the plastic bags used. By raising awareness of the benefits green spaces can bring urban communities, the projects aim to inspire and educate people to build a brighter, greener future for the children of today.
As part of their focus on green spaces for the next generation, Trees for Cities launched their Generation Tree campaign during National Tree Week; highlighting the need for us to plant more trees to across the UK cities for the benefit of our future.
David Elliot, Chief Executive of Trees for Cities said:
“It’s not too late for us to be a generation that makes a positive impact on the planet. By committing to plant more trees than we cut down, we are making our cities more liveable for generations to come. We recognise that trees are not the only answer to mitigating the effects of climate change, but they can have a huge impact on cleaning and cooling our air, especially in our most built up communities.”
Beyond the environmental benefits, there are significant social benefits to this project, with evidence showing that biodiverse natural environments are associated with good health and wellbeing, improvements ranging from better mental health outcomes, to associations with increased healthy behaviours. By engaging local people in creating the new woodland, we hope to bring neighbours together to make a positive change to their local environment, ensuring a sense of local ownership and pride in creation of this new space, which ultimately will be for all to enjoy.
Love Leeds trees? Help Trees for Cities plant more trees, by joining Generation Tree and donating £5 today: treesforcities.org/generationtree