Wee Forests to leave living legacy for COP26 in Glasgow - Earthwatch

Wee Forests to leave living legacy for COP26 in Glasgow

Led by Earthwatch Europe and NatureScot, the project will create pockets of nature-rich green space across the city as a living legacy and celebration of COP26. Together Glasgow City Council, Earthwatch Europe, NatureScot, Glasgow Science Centre, Green Action Trust and The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) Scotland are planting eight Wee Forests across the city. The forests have been supported by BlackRock, Bloomberg LP, OVO Foundation (charity arm of OVO Energy), Scottish Government, the Seven Lochs Project, Vaillant Group and Whyte & Mackay.

The city, which plays host to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) 31 October – 12 November 2021, will be planted with eight new Wee Forests starting from 18 October 2021, in locations including Glasgow Green, Govan Road, Orkney Street, Maxwell Park, Castlebay Drive, Crookston Castle, Oakgrove Primary School and Rossendale Road. Scotland’s first Wee Forest was planted in Easterhouse, Glasgow as part of the Seven Lochs Project in February 2021.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said: “For many of us, the Covid pandemic has changed how we view and value nature, and we know people want to spend more time outdoors for the benefits it brings to their mental and physical health. We need to improve access to our green spaces and provide equal opportunities for everyone to connect to nature.  Wee Forests are an ideal way of achieving this, whether as a place for children to play or a quiet spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city”.

“Our Wee Forests enable people to be directly involved in tackling the nature and climate crises by planting, looking after and charting the development of a forest and the wildlife it attracts in their own neighbourhood.

“This new network of Wee Forests is a great example of partnership working between the public and private sector, attracting additional investment to help enhance our natural environment. With the spotlight on Glasgow as we approach COP26, innovative projects like this will showcase to the rest of the world how Scotland is leading the way in our action to tackle the twin crises of climate change and nature loss.”

A Wee Forest (also known as a Tiny Forest) is made up of 600 densely packed native trees in a space the size of a tennis court, and is capable of attracting over 500 animal and plant species within the first three years.  It also provides rich opportunities for engaging young and old alike with the environment and sustainability.

Councillor Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, Glasgow City Council, said: “We are delighted to assist with the expansion of the Wee Forest Projects across the City. As we look to meet our objectives of our Climate Plan exciting projects such as this, in the heart of our communities, will ensure we continue to improve our environment while providing opportunities for our communities to actively participate in climate related activities.” 

Following COP26, Earthwatch will collect scientific data with the help of young people from local schools and the wider community to assess the forest’s environmental benefits such as carbon absorption and biodiversity, as well as assessing the social and wellbeing benefits of having this new green space in an urban area. A Wee Forest is first and foremost a community space – somewhere to come together and experience the benefits of access to nature for health and wellbeing.

Louise Hartley, Tiny Forest Programme Manager at Earthwatch Europe, said: “The environmental crises we face – from climate change to biodiversity loss – are too big, too urgent, and too complex for any one organisation to solve alone.  COP26 is vital in uniting the world to tackle climate change, and we are playing our part.  The Wee Forest project aims to provide people with the knowledge and skills to protect our natural world and inspire them to take climate action.  We are delighted to be working with our public and private sector partners to bring these inspiring spaces to COP26 and the residents of Glasgow.”

Francesca Osowska, Chief Executive at NatureScot, said: “As Glasgow prepares to host COP26, this is the perfect time for people to take positive action for both nature and the climate. These Wee Forests are not only a great way to connect with nature close to home, but they’ll also help communities become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. We want to inspire the next generation to care for nature, and what better way to do this than to grow up alongside their very own forest.”

For more information about Tiny Forests visit https://earthwatch.org.uk/tiny-forests 

Gemma Gooch, Co-Head Global Social Impact at BlackRock said:

“As more and more people live in urban areas, Wee (Tiny) Forests have the potential to help capture carbon emissions, increase biodiversity and contribute to a more climate resilient society. We are very proud to support Earthwatch Europe with this initiative, reminding us that there are ways we can help fight climate change in our own local communities, especially as we look ahead to COP26.”

Adam Freed, Principal for Sustainability at Bloomberg Associates said:

“COP26 is a critical moment to highlight the smart, scalable solutions that are available to us today to reduce emissions and build healthier, more vibrant communities. The Wee Forests we’re planting with our partners across Glasgow are an incredible example of how small changes can have a big impact in our fight against climate change.”

Douglas Worral, Director of Service Delivery at the Green Action Trust said:

“We were delighted to be asked to be a delivery partner for these pilot projects. We are looking forward to working with the local communities within Glasgow to create these new Wee Forests. In years to come these forests will be places where both people and nature can flourish”.

Stephen Breslin, CEO at Glasgow Science Centre said:

“We are delighted to be working with Earthwatch Europe and Bloomberg to invite our local schools and communities to grow and care for their local Wee Forest in Govan.”

Gaby Sethi, Head of OVO Foundation said:

“We are excited to be supporting Earthwatch Europe’s Wee Forest project in Glasgow as the city prepares to host COP26 – this year’s climate summit will undoubtedly be a pivotal moment in the fight against the climate crisis. The OVO Foundation is built on the power of community and we’re proud to help connect local children with their green spaces, and show them how they can protect it for future generations.”

Debbie Adams, Director for TCV Scotland said:

“Wee Forests are perfect for improving the quality of these urban landscapes, and we know that proximity to good quality greenspaces improves people’s physical and mental health. TCV are delighted to plant these forests with local volunteers to create lasting connections to nature and improve their own communities in Glasgow.”

Steve Cipriano, Commercial Director at Vaillant said:

“At Vaillant, the climate crisis and our responsibility for the environment drives us to create market-leading sustainable heating solutions. Our investment in renewable heating technologies is matched by our investment in behaving as sustainably as possible. This means reducing the impact we make as a business on the environment and establishing mitigating strategies on our journey to climate neutrality from our manufacturing and business processes. But we know this isn’t enough, and we are determined to work on a local level, enhancing the environments that our customers live in, in a tangible way.

Our partnership with Tiny Forests means we’re able to help councils and social housing providers reduce their carbon footprints whilst improving their neighbourhoods. Everyone benefits from being in nature, but sadly, not everyone can access it. Tiny Forests in urban areas provide unique opportunities for residents and nature that we are very proud to support. We’re particularly pleased to be the sponsor of the first Wee Forest in Glasgow, the venue for COP26 in November.”

Kieran Healey-Ryder, Sustainability Steering Group at Whyte and Mackay said:

“Our story started in Glasgow in 1844, and it remains our home today. As whisky makers we believe in a sustainable future for Scotch Whisky, and that includes the communities within which we live and work across Scotland. We launched our Whyte and Mackay Green Print to lay out how we become Carbon Net Neutral by 2030, and launching the Wee Forest today is one step on that journey.”

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