Wednesday 28 January 2015

Hundreds of trees are set to be planted by schoolchildren and members of the local community in the latest phase of a woodland creation project in Sheffield.

The trees, part of a wider project to plant 50,000 trees in 17 new woodlands across the city, will be planted at Greenhill Park on the afternoon of Friday 6 February.

Councillor Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “It is heartening to see schoolchildren getting involved with this ambitious woodland creation project, which is further proof of our commitment to enhancing the landscape and environment of our city as much as we possibly can.

“We already know that Sheffield is one of the greenest cities in Europe, with two million trees – four for every single person.

“This is especially important at a time when we are cementing our reputation as the Uk’s Outdoor Capital City and demonstrating that Sheffield is a city where people can come to walk, jog, ride their bikes and enjoy family days out in an array of fabulous green spaces.”

Sheffield City Council, working with environmental and community groups, first started planting trees at Greenhill Park 28 years ago.

In 1993, local environmental group “Roots ’n’ Shoots” noticed that several areas of the park were unused, and approached the authority for permission to plant trees in these areas.

As a result, a woodland nature area was created. These trees are now approaching early maturity and provide a wonderful backdrop to the park.

For the last six years the council’s Community Forestry Team has undertaken a number of tree planting projects in the park, with a view to improving the amenity of the park, extending its biodiversity and improving air quality.

The plantings have been funded by organisations including Friends of the Earth, the Climate Change Fund and the Woodland Trust.

This year the Community Forestry Team is planting a further 2,241 British-grown native trees in the park, to create nearly a hectare of new woodland habitat.

The Community Forestry team has worked closely with the Friends of Greenhill Park Group and consulted with the local community.

As a result of this consultation process, it was decided that the planting would not encroach on the park’s central open area, on which the ever-popular Lowedges Festival is held in August each year.

The new woodland will be accessible to the community and will include areas of open space to incorporate footpaths, woodland edge habitat, rides and glades.

Harry Hunter, from the Friends of Greenhill Park, said: “Our group has actively supported the various tree planting initiatives since the group was formed in 2003.

“In the same period we have also planted more than 10,000 spring bulbs, many of them in the new woodland areas.

“Regular park users, including the walking group who have met in the park for the last 10 years, have commented favourably on the transformation of the park from a largely bland green space to a more colourful and varied landscape which enhances the visitor experience.”

Next week, around 80 local primary school children will work with the Community Forestry Team to help plant the trees.

These children will help establish a green legacy that will be with them throughout not just their lives, but the lives of future generations.

Tim Shortland, community forestry manager at Sheffield City Council, added: “Sheffield’s existing woodlands are renowned nationally, but many are in decline and despite being of great value to people and wildlife alike will not last forever.

“The establishment of new woodland will perpetuate this amazing woodland legacy for future generations and, in the shorter term, will provide a diversity of habitats for wildlife.

“These new woodlands will maintain the cities woodland legacy, increase biodiversity, clean the air and create new amenity opportunities. They will create the next generation of woodlands for future generations of Sheffielders to enjoy.”

This tree-planting project across the city is being funded by a Forestry Commission Woodland Creation grant of around £136,000.

Other sites where new woodlands will be created are at Acres Hill (Mather Road), Addlington Rd (Parson Cross Park), Black Bank Open Space, East Park Fields (Brunswick Fields), Flockton Park, Jaunty Park, Longley Park, Manor Laith Rd Green Space, Sky Edge Open Space, Manor Playing Fields, Ochre Dyke Playing Fields, Richmond Heights and Westwood Country Park.

Chris Grice, the local Forestry Commission Woodland Officer, said: “We are delighted to be investing grant aid in creating new woodlands across Sheffield.”

“Sheffield City Council recognises the value of trees to people, wildlife and the economy and we welcome their ongoing work to plant more trees and manage the woodlands of the city sustainably.”