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Trees for Sacred Spaces

by Michael Ford last modified 21 Feb, 2017 05:10 PM

As the Church of England's lead bishop on the environment, the Bishop of Salisbury has added his support to a scheme which enables Greater London churches to plant trees that support bees and other pollinators.

Trees for Sacred Spaces

The Bishop of London with Shirley Rodrigues and the Bishops of Southwark, Chelmsford and Salisbury

The Conservation Foundation’s latest project, run across the London, Southwark, Chelmsford and Rochester dioceses, forms part of the Mayor’s ambition to make London one of the greenest cities in the world. The tree plantings offer opportunities for churches to organise events and ceremonies involving members of other faiths, helping 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. Churches 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 supporting bees and other wildlife.

The project is supported by 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.

“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 Chartres played a pivotal role in developing The Conservation Foundation’s Yews for the Millennium project which planted over 8,000 yew trees throughout the country, many in churchyards, 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.”

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.”

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