Residents, councillors and volunteers have joined forces with a national conservation charity to help create a cleaner, greener city during a series of community tree planting days.
People have been rolling up their sleeves and taking part in events across Wolverhampton to dig in saplings in places where there is currently less tree cover.
City of Wolverhampton Council secured almost £130,000 from the Woodland Trust last year to plant a total of 20,000 trees, made up of native species such as English oak, hawthorn, crab apple, silver birch and hazel. The conservation charity invited councils to bid for funding under its Emergency Tree Fund which aims to look after existing trees as well as identify new areas for planting.
Following public consultation during December, City of Wolverhampton Council identified a series of sites across the city for the new planting. The bulk of the Woodland Trust-funded planting was carried out by council contractors during the Christmas and New Year period, but residents, councillors and volunteers have been taking part in four more planting dates.
Attending a planting event at Spring Vale Park on Wednesday February 23 were members of the Woodland Trust as well as representatives from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) who gave out trees to local residents to plant and register as part of the West Midlands Virtual Forest. The Virtual Forest, developed by the WMCA, aims to plant a tree for every resident across our region to help tackle the climate emergency.
Individuals, organisations, businesses and schools are invited to plant trees and then record and register the location at www.WMVirtualForest.co.uk This will create a virtual map of all new trees planted across the West Midlands.
Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment and climate change, said: “We were delighted to have secured the funding from the Woodland Trust to plant this fantastic number of new trees.
“Each tree planted brings us closer to a cleaner, greener city, offering a huge range of environmental benefits and a providing a real boost to our emotional wellbeing. I really would like to thank everyone who is rolling up their sleeves and taking part in the planting for the benefit of our city and its future generations.”
The Woodland Trust’s regional external affairs officer for the West Midlands, Nick Sandford, said: “The Woodland Trust has been working with City of Wolverhampton Council over many years. We’ve helped them to develop a really strong tree strategy and now it’s great to see that being translated into trees in the ground, supported by a grant from our Emergency Tree Fund, which allows local authorities to access funding for innovative projects to create greener, healthier communities.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA, said: “Our pioneering virtual forest website is growing wonderfully with 50,000 trees registered to date as a result of the fantastic efforts of a wide range of supporters including individuals, developers and community groups.
“With the storms of the last few days sadly losing us some trees, what better time to be handing out more trees this week to get people across the region planting. This will help to make the West Midlands one of the greenest places to be in the UK, tackling the climate emergency and improving quality of life for citizens.”
Tree planting days have taken place at Bee Lane Playing Fields, Bushbury and Spring Vale Park. Further planting will take place later this month at Colman Avenue Open Space, Wednesfield and in early March at Stowheath Lane Open Space, Bilston.
By the end of March, the council plans to have planted over 30,000 new trees. The vast majority of the planting will form part of the national Queen’s Green Canopy, a UK-wide tree planting initiative to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year.