Tree planting underway at Highworth’s Pentylands Country Park

Thousands of trees have been planted at Highworth Countryside Park as part of England’s Community Forests’ Trees for Climate programme.

Highworth tree planting

The programme, announced in December, will see Swindon’s Great Western Community Forest (GWCF) contributing to a national target to create 6000ha of new woodland over the next 5 years in England’s 10 community forests

Thanks to a £12.1 million fund from central government, trees planted across the country will eventually store 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide and will help make local landscapes more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

On March 14, 2021, seven family groups from the area planted over 100 trees and there’s plans for even more groups to chip in over the coming weeks.

And it’s not just families. The Natural Environment Research Council, which has its headquarters in Swindon, is looking to plant 500 trees at the site, with local Scouts groups and pupils from Southfields School aiming to plant hundreds more.

Social distancing is in place at the planting events with families staying four metres apart from each other, thanks to the location of each tree.

Councillor Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, said: “It’s great to see so many people doing their bit to tackle climate change.

“The new woodland will not only be great for the environment, but also for the mental and physical health for a lot of people.

“This new forest will leave a lasting legacy for the local community and help us in our bid to create a greener future in Swindon.”

The GWCF target is to support the planting of a total of approximately 350 hectares of woodland across the Forest area over the five-year period of the programme – around 500,000 trees in total.

The 4.99 hectares at Pentylands is one  of the areas already identified as suitable for planting over the next five planting seasons to March 2025.

The new woodlands will store vast quantities of carbon playing an important role in our national mission to help the UK hit its target of net zero by 2050.

The woods will also deliver benefits for wildlife, natural flood management systems, improve air quality and create a more advantageous setting for economic recovery and growth.

Through Trees for Climate more communities in towns and cities will get access to nature, proven to boost health and wellbeing and giving children living in urban areas a chance to explore the natural environment.

People can book to plant a tree by emailing the Friends of Pentylands on [email protected] or by calling 07968 640 136.

Families are welcome to dedicate a tree to a friend or relative but are warned their labels will be covered up when tree shelters are added in a few weeks.

Ken Saunders, from the Friends of Pentylands group, added: “We provide labels for people helping with the planting to write their name, dedication, company, group, etc. on.

“People are planting trees for themselves, relatives both past and present, pets and even for their gerbil that passed away last month.

“We’ve held three sessions so far. Last Sunday where the photos came from was supposed to be for a seven-year-old girl to plant a tree on her birthday but others heard about it and we planted 120.”