Hundreds of young people gathered on a former coal mine site as they planted the first trees of Britain’s first Young People’s Forest.
The Woodland Trust is in the process of buying Mead – the site of the former Lodge House opencast colliery – near Heanor, Derbyshire. It is empowering children and teenagers to pick up their shovels and plant 250,000 trees over the coming years.
On 10 May 135 young people visited the site for the first time for a host of activities, including planting the first ceremonial trees.
Carol Honeybun-Kellyis leading the £4.7m project on behalf of the Trust. She said:
“With climate change at the forefront of the news, for young people there is no better way to get involved in a project to boost the environment – by creating this new Young People’s Forest.
“The hope of this project is to engage new generations in environmental concerns. As well as help develop within them a passion for woodland conservation and encourage them to learn new skills.
“It is really exciting to be welcoming the first wave of young people to the site in what is our first piece of engagement. We hope the event inspires them to continue to be involved as the project develops.
“Young people themselves will be driving the decisions here but I would love this to be a place where all kinds of things can happen – career training, practical workshops, bushcraft sessions, music festivals. The potential is terrific.”
Former member of pop band JLS, JB Gill,now turned farmer and presenter, is backing the project and said the wood will be an “oasis for people and wildlife”.
“It’s slap bang in the middle of an urban landscape – as the wood grows and thrives, visitors will get lost wandering around paths, roaming open grasslands, and exploring new wildlife habitats.
“We need young people to be involved right from the start. Their decisions will shape what this forest will become. Their vision will help this forest grow into a place for them and their community.”
On launch day, there were young people from several local schools, including Mapperley CofE School, Heanor Science College and Howitt Primary Community School.