The Children's Forest's Story
The Project will also raise awareness of climate change with the children and their families, to inspire and empower them to take action to reduce their carbon footprints and leave a positive impact on the environment. The Children’s Forest will involve: the planting of 2,600 trees on 4 acres of land; engaging 350 people (of which at least 70% will be children and young people) over two years to create the forest; and importantly, maintaining this new woodland for many generations to come.
The aims of all Children's forest projects are to: support the creation of a healthy future for the children of all species; realise our imagination holds the key to what we create in the world; remember our place within the family of nature; develop our human gift of tending the natural world; bring about eco-restoration through the planting and tending of healthy trees and all the species they support.
The project is managed by Achieving Results in Communities (ARC), a local community organisation that has been working for 10 years to enhance access to, and management of, the natural environment to benefit the physical and mental health and wellbeing of local people in Warwick District and surrounding areas.
The project is guided by the Leasowe Land Regeneration Project Steering Group, whose vision is to engage the local community in a transition from farmland to woodland for a total of 12 acres, thus creating longer-term connections to the land, woods and nature.
It is expected that planting of the Children’s Forest will be completed in the 2023 planting season (November ‘22 – March ‘23) and it is hoped will be open to its first visitors in the same year.
Kristie Naimo, Spokesperson for the Project and Director of ARC says “We are very excited to be starting this project to help people foster a stronger connection to woodland and nature locally. We hope this pilot will inspire and lead to the creation of more bio-diverse natural spaces across Warwick District.”
Find out more about Achieving Results in Communities (ARC) CIC and their other projects around Warwick District: http://www.arccic.co.uk/
Find out more about Children’s Forests: https://childrensforest.earth/
Useful Learnings from The Children's Forest
Children's Forests have been established in several areas across the country. This project at Leasowe Farm in Warwick District (WD) builds on the experience of the Children's Forest. The project has drawn on the steering group members’ experience of establishing woodlands.
ARC established Foundry Wood Community Woodland from 2012 onwards (www.foundrywood.co.uk). The Ingall family, owners of the land, planted Tallis Wood at Leasowe Farm 15 years ago. Both woods are used by community groups for a range of activities including forest schools, toddler groups, volunteering and mental health and wellbeing sessions for adults. This project will sit alongside other community-led regeneration activities proposed in the neighbouring eight acres. The project will work in partnership with The Children’s Forests applying and adapting their methodology and materials for engaging young people in planting woodland and deepening their connection to nature. The project will demonstrate methodologies and build a team of locally trained facilitators for community tree planting and climate education to be scaled up across the district, e.g. as part of Warwickshire's commitment to plant a tree for every member of its population by 2030.
Consultation has been important in developing plans for this project. Key parties have been Warwick District Council, the ecology team at Warwickshire County Council (WCC), statutory bodies, schools, religious associations, a youth club, college, FoRGE (Friends of Radford Semele Green Environment) and members of Canalside Community Food (which neighbours the woodland). An application for funding for the project including a proportion of the trees was made to WCC Green Shoots Community grant scheme – which was awarded in July 2021. Additional co-funding is being sought from the Woodland Trust for the provision of the tree saplings.
As of October 2021, the project in WD is still in the planning phase – with the first planting of trees due to take place in Winter 21/22. Already challenges mostly around logistics of involving multiple partners – e.g. finalising dates within the school calendar year and fit with the curriculum, preparing the land with the land owner, and arranging the trainer to come to deliver the sessions. An unexpected hurdle currently being overcome is the huge demand for trees and tree planting across the UK has meant the Woodland Trust has been overwhelmed with requests for trees/planting projects causing a delay in processing paperwork, conducting site visits and subsequently arranging delivery of trees.
None of this has been insurmountable and flexibility and understanding of different pressures have been key for the project management team. Regular meetings with the Leasowe Land Regeneration Group have helped to maintain momentum and enthusiasm during the project planning phase.
The Children's Forest's Metrics
Number of people involved in creating the forest.
Estimations on sequestered carbon.
In terms of positive impact on the environment, the children’s forest, when fully grown will:
• Extract from the atmosphere; an estimated 2,600 tonnes of CO2 over the lifetime of the trees;
• Produce an average of 88,400Kg of Oxygen per year; and
• Capture an average of 67,600Kg of harmful particulate matter from the atmosphere per year.