Up to 400 saplings will be given away across the region this half-term week to encourage more people to get growing and boost the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Virtual Forest.
WMCA’s Right Tree, Right Place campaign has visited Birmingham, and will call at Wolverhampton and Coventry later this week to hand out the potted saplings to people. These can be taken home and put in a garden and then registered on the virtual forest website.
The WMCA teamed up with the Birmingham Tree People, a group of volunteer tree wardens, and experts from the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) for today’s event at the Exchange in Centenary Square, Birmingham. It is part of a series of events called The Secret Life of Trees, running throughout half-term at the University of Birmingham’s new premises at the Exchange. The virtual forest was launched two years ago to encourage people to get planting and help the West Midlands achieve its #WM2041 climate change ambition to be carbon neutral over the next two decades. More than 50,000 trees have already been planted and registered on the website.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA joined the Birmingham Tree People for a tree giveaway encouraging people to get planting. He said: “Our pioneering virtual forest website is growing wonderfully with 50,000 trees registered to date as a result of the fantastic efforts of a wide range of supporters including individuals, developers and community groups.
“With the storms of the last few days sadly losing us some trees, what better time to be handing out more trees this week to get people across the region planting. This will help to make the West Midlands one of the greenest places to be in the UK, tackling the climate emergency and improving quality of life for citizens.”
Chair of Birmingham Tree People, Tonia Clark, said: “Our event at the Exchange has been a tremendous opportunity to highlight not only why trees are important, but also how fascinating they are. We can sometimes take them for granted or don’t appreciate the contribution they make to biodiversity and the quality of our lives, let alone absorbing carbon, and it’s been great to work with the WMCA to hand out these trees so that everyone can experience the wonder of trees more directly.”
Councillor Ian Courts, WMCA portfolio lead for the environment and leader of Solihull Council said: “It is important everyone plays a part in tackling climate change and the Right Tree Right Place campaign will help people to make a small difference in their own garden – they can then see on the virtual forest website how these individual actions can all add up to a big positive change for the region. Planting trees isn’t just about supporting our move to net zero, but also creates wonderful spaces for people to enjoy, boosting our health and wellbeing too.
The tree giveaway will be visiting Springvale Park, Wolverhampton on Wednesday, 23rd February and Aldersley Park, Coventry on Friday, February 25.