A tree planting programme for London’s churches supported by the Mayor of London, is aiming to make neighbourhoods greener and more attractive for bees. 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, says, “In our global city, in this interconnected world, practising love of our neighbours means looking after the natural environment that we share. Parishes across London’s dioceses have made strides in encouraging biodiversity in our churchyards through Churchyards for London, he said. Bishop Richard, who is about to retire, added: “It gives me great pleasure that one of the final projects I will launch as Bishop of London will offer our churches the opportunity to plant more trees in their areas, contributing to local air quality as well providing places of peace and beauty for generations to come.”
Bishop Richard 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. 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, “The Diocese of Chelmsford happily serves a large part of East London: lots of people, lots of buildings, vibrant communities, but not enough trees. We are delighted to be part of this initiative and where possible and appropriate look forward to seeing new trees planted in the churchyards we look after and all across our capital. To plant a tree is to invest in someone else's future.”
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.”
You could add a line to say that it echoes an initiative in Burundi where the Anglican church has begun a programme to plant 10 million trees (one for every member of the population) over the next five years.