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From the blog

Combatting Climate Change through Tree Planting

by Nick Sandford

In partnership with PECT’s Forest for Peterborough project, a local church in Bretton (Peterborough) is encouraging people to get tree planting on Sunday 26th January to help combat the impact of climate change.

During September 2019, Church of the Holy Spirit (the Church of England Church situated at the Bretton Centre) ran a series of sermons on the theme of stewardship of God’s natural environment, focussing on key issues such as biodiversity loss and climate change. I spoke at one of the services and a representative of the campaign group Extinction Rebellion addressed the congregation at another.

Following this, the congregation, led by Assistant Curate, Revd Helena Del Pino, decided that they wanted to do something practical to improve the local environment and that some small-scale tree planting in Bretton Park would be an ideal project that they could undertake.  Peterborough City Council kindly provided some land in Bretton Park, on a slope along the main cycleway adjacent to Highlees Spinney, a long-established wood that dates back to at least the early 19th century. The Bretton Parish Council, local city councillors and the Friends of Bretton Park were consulted and their views taken into account. PECT agreed to supply trees and planting equipment as part of their Forest for Peterborough project, which aims to plant a tree for every resident in the city (around 230,000) over a 20-year period.

Members of the church congregation will be leading the planting, but all local residents are invited to come along and help plant some trees. It is hoped that the tree planting will help bring the local community together in the act of creating a new wood for the future.

Around 50 native mixed species of upper canopy trees will be planted, together with a larger range of smaller shrub species; so as to concentrate on the lower shrub layer to improve the habitat complexity of the site, which already contains a small number of semi mature trees.

The shrub layer will provide nesting and roosting sites for many species of birds and the flowers will provide habitats for pollinators and invertebrates. These may become direct food sources for birds and bats, but they will also improve the production of berries which will provide further food sources for birds and small mammals.  Over time, seeds may spread into the new wood from the adjacent long-established wood, Highlees Spinney, thus further increasing the biodiversity in the new woodland.

Tree planting is a fantastic way to help tackle climate change and it also delivers a range of other benefits for both people and wildlife. The simple act of planting a tree means a lot to many people, and children in particular love the way in which it helps them do something now that will benefit everyone for hundreds of years into the future. We need to plant millions of new trees in Peterborough – and across the country – and ours is but a small contribution towards that aim.

Revd Helena said: “The earth is God’s great gift of creation to us all and humans were given the responsibility to care for it.  Sadly, we have let human greed and wastefulness damage this great gift and so we need to do all we can to restore what we have wounded.  By planting trees in Bretton we renew our commitment to care for the benefit of the earth itself and for the health and hope of all who live and work and visit Bretton.”

For more information about the event, please click here.