Two of Leicester’s most popular green spaces have seen the planting of nearly 5,000 trees following a successful bid to the Forestry Commission’s Urban Tree Challenge Fund. Green spaces are well known to be important in combatting negative mental health issues, especially in urban areas.
Leicester City Council environmental rangers completed the planting of 1,111 trees last week in Knighton Park. The large native species of trees being planted are oak and lime, with smaller species such a hawthorn, hazel, and crab apple also being planted to extend an existing copse. The team of four, who are dealing with rain, mud, and frozen ground, have now moved on to Aylestone Meadows to plant 3,747 small trees, knowns as ‘whips’, by tomorrow.
Three new copses of native field maple, alder, and aspen trees are being created, each measuring roughly half a hectare.
The positive impact of planting new trees is tenfold. Sir William Worsley, Chair of the Forestry Commission, said: “Community tree planting is a passion of mine which is why I am so excited to see projects like these benefitting from our Urban Tree Challenge Fund.
“Trees give life to our streets and our parks, help improve the health of communities, and provide homes for precious wildlife, and the thousands of new trees that will be planted will bring many benefits for generations to come.”
Deputy city mayor responsible for the environment Cllr Adam Clarke said: “This type of planting would normally be supported by our brilliant environmental volunteers, but the coronavirus pandemic means that the volunteering programme is currently suspended.
“We’ve missed our volunteers’ support this year, but I’m very grateful to our small team of environmental rangers and parks staff, who have managed to plant thousands of whips in some really horrible weather conditions.
“As part of our tree strategy, we’re committed to increasing the number of trees in our care and improving the quality of the city’s tree stock. This significant number of new trees, which have been planted to mimic natural woodland, will provide important new habitat for wildlife – and will be enjoyed by visitors to Knighton Park and Aylestone Meadows for generations to come.”
The funding for these trees, which totals £5,587 was awarded to the city council as part of the second round of the Forestry Commission’s Urban Tree Challenge Fund.
By Sam Ellison