In celebration of National Tree Week 65,000 trees will be planted in community projects in the UK and Africa over the next twelve months.
International Tree Foundation (ITF) and Worktop Express® have joined together to announce they are providing grant funding to support 3 community tree planting projects in the UK and 3 in Africa.
Funds will be used to enable local communities to plant trees, protect forests and conserve the environment.
In Africa, projects in Cameroon and Ghana will be supported along with a scheme in the Wera county of Uganda. This is an area that has seen much upheaval over the past decade as the Lords Resistance Army was active in the region abducting and displacing local people. Many people are now returning to the area after years in camps to find an environment with little tree cover, degraded land and suffering from devastating flooding.
However a group of local young people have come together to do something about their situation and the grant will fund the planting of trees on farms for food, medicines, fuel, and windbreaks and to improve soil fertility. Emadu Thomas, the Chairperson of youth group WEYFA (Wera Youth Foundation), told us that the project will be starting environmental clubs in schools, hosting radio phone ins and it will be assisting 100 of the most vulnerable households to plant trees on their farms and gardens.
The UK, tree planting projects will be based at Greenslade Community Farm, Billinge near Wigan, the Cuckmere valley in Sussex and Somerset’s Ham Hill Country Park.
One of the priorities for the UK projects was to plant indigenous broadleaf trees and in the Ulmus Maritime project in Sussex it is the elm which takes centre stage. Sussex is a stronghold for this beleaguered tree, whose Latin name is Ulmus, which was largely wiped out by Dutch elm disease. But over the next year, 120 elms of four different varieties will be planted in three villages in the Cuckmere Valley.
James Coleman, the Project Officer for the Conservation Foundation leading the project told us of their plans for caring for the trees in the future “each planting site will have a designated “guardian” to look after the saplings and send updates on their development every 6 months”
In addition the local community will also be involved with ceremonial plantings, taking a nature walk to visit some of the remaining mature elm trees and they will be collecting elm seeds for Kew Garden’s Millennium Seed Bank.
On announcing the new project funding Andy Egan, Director of ITF said “It is fitting that at the start of National Tree Week we are able to make such an important announcement. ITF was one of the early supporters of the tree week in the mid 1970’s and we are delighted that forty years later we are still supporting communities to plant trees.”
Alexandra Finlay, of Worktop Express® said, “a commitment to the environment has always been fundamental to our ethos, which is why we only use sustainably-sourced timber in our worktops. We’re delighted to support these projects which show how planting and conserving trees can make an enormous impact, in so many different ways, to protecting the environment and benefitting local communities.”
Other projects receiving funding are:
At Greenslade Community Farm at Billinge near Wigan coppices of oak, hazel, lime and osier willow will be planted to create a richer flora and fauna environment and to provide green timbers, basket willow and charcoal for the farm to use or sell to support its educational and community programmes.
The history of Ham Hill Country Park in Somerset can be traced back to the early 1600’s when records show that there was mixed woodland on the site. During the Second World many of the trees were felled and since then the woodland that has re-grown is dominated by sycamore.
The Friends of Ham Hill have come together to restore the woodland’s biodiversity and landscape character and through the help of the project they will plant 1000 native tree species in an area known as Pit Wood. They will involve the local community in tree planting and seed gathering including a family ‘Bring a spade day’ which will promote community engagement and a greater understanding of the importance of woodland habitats.
The Dom Community Forest in Cameroon is a biodiversity hot spot for trees. To increase the protection of the forest, Community Assistance in Development (COMAID) will be working with the local community to establish a “forest food buffer”. Trees will be planted that the community can use including those which produce edible fruit and nuts as well as providing local remedies for malaria fever or dyes used to colour dresses.
The community of Pase in the Upper West Region of Ghana lives in an area depleted of trees due to unsustainable farming practices, wild fires and felling trees for fuel and for making charcoal. This in turn has resulted in the erosion of farm lands, soil infertility and consequently poor harvests. Through the project, Sungmaale Integrated Herbalists Association will assist the community to restore degraded lands. They will be working on reforestation, woodlot establishment and wildfire management while increase the knowledge of farmers on sustainable land management practices. They will also support women to diversify their family’s incomes by developing alternative livelihoods such as making soap and pomade, selling fruit and honey.