A Greater Manchester charity is on a mission to plant tens of thousands of trees in primary and secondary schools across the region.
City of Trees pledged to plant a total of three million saplings across Greater Manchester, one for every man, woman and child. 15,000 of those will be in schools.
The ‘Trees for Learning’ initiative is part of a national DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) backed programme planting thousands of trees in schools across the UK.
City of Trees is now calling for schools to get in touch if they want to get involved, either if they have land for planting trees, or want pupils to experience helping to sow new saplings in a local greenspare.
Beth Kelsall, from City of Trees, explained: “I think it’s really important that that link is formed at an early age, because I think there has to be that initial connection with nature. It’s much harder to reconnect somebody to something they were never actually connected to in the first place because it doesn’t resonate. There might not be any quality green spaces near them for them to access so to give them these places is really important.
“Kids love it, even the ones who are a bit nervous of mud or worms at the start, they end up loving them. We’ve had quite a few fears conquered as well. They just love it, once they know they’re allowed to get muddy as well they really love it, it’s just something practical to do, and feels like a bit of treat to them.”
As well as helping children learn about, and in, the great outdoors, the Trees of Learning project is also hoping to improve mental health.
A study by Natural England found that nature-based activities helped people struggling with depression and anxiety.
“There’s been lots of different studies done on people being outdoors and the effect that that has on their mental health. Fast healing, as well, while mindfulness is a really evolving practice as well so we’ve been doing a lot of mindfulness walks and taking people out into nature.”
City of Trees is also delivering outdoor and classroom education sessions, linking nature to the national curriculum.
“The immediate subject that comes to mind is science, but there’s actually loads of subjects you can do with trees. We do workshops on thousands of trees with numeracy, trees and English. You can pretty much teach any subject in the outdoors and that’s what we’re really trying to address through Trees for Learning, we’re making sure teachers have the resources and feel comfortable taking their kids outside to learn a range of different subjects.