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East London council begins planting of ‘Forest of Thanks’ for NHS and keyworkers

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During what has been a difficult and unprecedented time for everyone, with more to possibly come, Barking and Dagenham Council want to recognise the incredible work that not only our local NHS staff and keyworkers have done, but every other individual who continued to work during the Covid-19 pandemic and kept our community safe. To celebrate those who have consistently gone above and beyond, the council will be creating a ‘Forest of Thanks’ over at Parsloes Park in Dagenham.
The council will be partnering up with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) who work across the UK to create healthier and happier communities, SUGi Projects, an international organisation specialising in urban rewilding and Natwest Bank, who very kindly donated the trees needed for planting.
Works on the forest start this week, with marking out of the site and then digging to commence over the following two weeks. With planting due to start on 23 November over a two-week period and will be completed at the end of National Tree Week, which finishes on the 4 December. Following on from this, there will be opportunities for residents to help further with the planting, sometime in the new year, when it is safe to do so.

We wanted to recognise those individuals in a very special way and one that would benefit the local community and The ‘Forest of Thanks’ will be there to show our appreciation for all the incredible work they continue to do. 

This ambitious project will include planting 32,000 native trees and shrubs, which have been very kindly donated to us by Natwest Bank, following a new planting method called Miyawaki, which establishes a forest up to 30 times more dense than conventional tree planting. It also grows 10 times faster than regular forests and is a chemical and fertiliser free forest that sustains itself once established and supports local biodiversity.
Just four years after planting, the ‘Forest of Thanks’ will deliver benefits including:

•    Absorb 24,000 kg of carbon: up to 30 times better absorption compared to other tree-planting schemes
•    Show a huge increase in Biodiversity
•    Process 1,500,000 litres of rain
•    Improve air quality by reducing polluting floating particulates by up to 10%
•    Up to 30 times better noise reduction compared to other tree-planting schemes

When completed, the ‘Forest of Thanks’ will be the largest Miyawaki Forest in the UK and Europe. A garden/meadow of remembrance will be incorporated within the ‘Forest of Thanks’ at a later date to commemorate residents who lost their lives to Covid-19 during the pandemic.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of the Council said: “With what has been extremely difficult times for residents in the borough and everyone else in the world, we must recognise those who especially went above and beyond to help those who needed it most. This is for every worker, whether that is a retail worker, council staff member or anyone else that during this time, has been keeping our community going and keeping people safe. But also, to remember those who sadly passed away during this pandemic. 
“We wanted to recognise those individuals in a very special way and one that would benefit the local community and The ‘Forest of Thanks’ will be there to show our appreciation for all the incredible work they continue to do.”
Cllr Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement said: “This is such a beautiful way of expressing our thanks to our local NHS staff and keyworkers who throughout this pandemic, worked with resilience and compassion, during what has been difficult times for our community. The ‘Forest of Thanks’ will be a wonderful addition to our green spaces in the borough and a place our residents will visit for years to come.”
Cllr Andrew Achilleos, Member Champion for Climate Change said: “After such a difficult year for our residents the ‘Forest of Thanks’ is an incredibly positive project. This is the perfect way to pay tribute to our NHS and keyworkers, delivering a wide range of benefits for the community and the environment. This method of planting improves air quality by capturing 30 times the carbon dioxide of traditional methods, it grows faster, and greatly boosts biodiversity.”

If residents wish to help plant this new forest, when it is safe to do so, or for more information about the ‘Forest of Thanks’, they can email rangers@lbbd.gov.uk.

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