London churches to help the capital bee greener

The Conservation Foundation’s tree planting programme for London’s Churches supported by the Mayor of London.

Churches across London can make their neighbourhood a greener, more bee-friendly place as part of a new project supported by the Mayor of London.

The Conservation Foundation’s Trees for Sacred Spaces project is enabling churches in the London, Southwark, Chelmsford and Rochester dioceses to plant trees that support bees and other pollinators as part of the Mayor’s ambition to make London one of the greenest cities in the world. The tree plantings will also offer an opportunity for churches to organise events and ceremonies that involve members of other faiths in their parishes to celebrate and help to enhance the environments that people of all faiths and no faith share.

There are over 600 churchyards or areas of church land within Greater London.  Whilst not all churches have suitable spaces, those with no space to plant a tree will be encouraged to donate one to a school or community garden within their parish, helping to increase London’s tree canopy cover and support bees and other wildlife to thrive in London.

The project is supported by the diocesan bishops. The Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, explains that he has a special reason to support the project.  “I retire in February and cannot think of a better way to leave my mark on my time as Bishop.”  Bishop Chartres played a pivotal role in developing The Conservation Foundation’s Yews for the Millennium project which planted over 8000 yew trees, many in churchyards, throughout the country to celebrate the year 2000.

The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, is equally enthusiastic and hopes that many of his churches will use the opportunity to involve other faiths. He explains, “The Mayor of London’s tree planting initiative is an innovative way of contributing to the life of London’s communities by improving the city’s air quality and also brightening its public spaces. He continues, “The Diocese of Southwark is playing its part in the initiative by giving all of our parishes in the Greater London area a tree for their churchyard, or to pass to their local schools and community gardens. I am pleased to commend this project as an important way of helping to steward the earth’s natural resources

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, says: “Although only some of our churches are in the Greater London area I am delighted there will be trees for them and I am hoping that as many as can will find a sacred space, however small. We really need to do all we can to encourage biodiversity in the London part of our diocese.”

In the Diocese of Rochester, churches in the Archdeaconry of Bromley and Bexley fall under Trees for Sacred Spaces. The Ven Dr Paul Wright says, “Anything that reminds us of God’s wonderful created order is a very good thing.  Trees are a powerful sign of this beauty and stability.  This scheme provides an opportunity to remind us of our relationship with creation.  I know Bishop James will welcome this initiative and the opportunities it may bring in my Archdeaconry of Bromley and Bexley.”

Welcoming the involvement of churches, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, says, “The Mayor wants London to be one of the world’s greenest cities and is introducing a wide range of measures to fulfil this ambition: a first step has been the commitment to provide £750,000 to plant more than 40,000 new London trees this winter, including helping The Conservation Foundation plant more than 600 trees in or near churchyards across London.”

David Shreeve, director of The Conservation Foundation, says, “A fifth of the capital is already covered by trees but some parts of London are short of greenery. Churches can play an important role in helping to make these areas look and feel better by planting one of the trees. All the trees available will be bee-friendly and therefore as well as benefiting London’s landscape and atmosphere they will also be supporting the capital’s pollinators.”

The trees will be available between March and June 2017. Those wishing to take part are asked to visit www.conservationfoundation.co.uk/trees to find out more and to register to receive trees.


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