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Three woods to be created in West Berkshire to remember Covid-19 victims

More than 1,200 trees and saplings will be planted this winter as a 'living memorial' to those who have died

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper

dan.cooper@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886632

Three woods to be created in West Berkshire to remember Covid-19 victims

MORE than a thousand trees will be planted across West Berkshire this winter to remember those who lost their lives due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Three ‘lockdown woods’ will be created in Newbury, Wash Common and Hungerford as ‘living memorials’ to those who died as a result of the virus.

Residents will also be invited to dedicate individual trees to a loved one lost to Covid-19, family and friends who have struggled during lockdown, or to key workers.

Newbury Friends of the Earth has teamed up with West Berkshire Council, Newbury Town Council and Hungerford Town and Manor to deliver the project.

More than 1,200 young native deciduous trees donated by the Woodland Trust – plus saplings raised by local residents – will be planted in November and December.

The largest site, about two acres, is at Westbrook Down, adjacent to Hungerford Marsh. 

It is being developed as community woodland by the Town and Manor of Hungerford in collaboration with Hungerford Environmental Action Team, St Lawrence Church and the Lockdown Woods project.

A second wood will be created in Goldwell Park, Newbury

The aim is to plant around 300 young trees on one acre of land at the western side of the park.

However, plans for a wood in this area are currently the subject of a public consultation and final approval will need to come from West Berkshire Council.

Newbury Friends of the Earth will also be linking up with the Growing Newbury Green group to plant 12 fruit trees to extend the existing community orchard in Barn Crescent, Wash Common.

A further 70 native woodland trees will be planted there too as part of the transformation of this field into another Lockdown Wood. 

Newbury Friends of the Earth said it was “very grateful” to Newbury Town Council, Greenham Parish Council and other groups for providing financial support to enable the project to go ahead.

The group said there would be ceremonies to dedicate the woods to the “memory of all we have lost during the pandemic and to give us hope for a healthy future for our families and our world”. 

During lockdown, with more people staying at home, Friends of the Earth realised there was an opportunity to encourage families to raise their own baby trees for community planting. 

A Facebook group, Lockdown Wood, has been set up to encourage people to pot up any tree seedlings they found, to identify them and look after them until they grow big enough to plant in a community wood. 

It now has more than 370 members.

Newbury Friends of the Earth chairman Adrian Foster-Fletcher, said: “It is imperative that over the next 25 years we double tree cover in the district to help biodiversity and fight climate change.  

“We hope this is the first phase of collaboration of the council with local environmental groups to dramatically increase tree planting and natural regeneration of wild areas, vital to a healthy future for us all.”

Newbury-based environmentalist Dr Susan Millington, who is leading the Lockdown Woods project, said: “Everyone I’ve spoken to about this project thinks it is a great idea – to combine the environmental benefits of new woodlands with living memorials to the difficult times we have been through during the lockdown period, so that local people can have somewhere beautiful to relax while coming to terms with the losses they have experienced due to this pandemic. 

“And their children will develop a personal relationship with trees they have planted in memory of loved ones, which we hope will transform into a lifelong love of nature. 

“We would love more local residents to join us, growing, planting and tending our young trees for many years to come.” 

The Woodland Trust charity provides free saplings for school and community projects, as well as looking after woodlands around the UK.

To find out more about the project, visit the Lockdown Wood Facebook page or the Newbury Friends of the Earth website at www.newburyfoe.co.uk

Dates for planting will be announced shortly.

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