BRITAIN will be given a chance to honour its First World War heroes thanks to a major project being launched by the Woodland Trust.
Under its £20 million Centenary Woods scheme, the Trust is creating four flagship woods – in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – to commemorate the centenary of the conflict.
As well as providing a much-needed boost to the nation’s tree coverage, the Centenary Woods will allow the public to remember family members who made sacrifices during the War by dedicating individual trees.
Pip Borrill, First World War Project Development Manager at the Woodland Trust, said the project would honour the memories of the wartime generation.
She added: “These symbolic trees and woods will transform the landscape into rich, vibrant and flourishing woodland and will stand proud as a lasting legacy for those who fought, those who lost their lives and also for their loved ones on the home front who supported them from afar.”
In addition to dedicating individual trees, people taking part in the Centenary Woods project are being asked to share their ancestors’ stories online.
The Woodland Trust has teamed up with Find My Past to encourage people to publish their relatives’ tales of love, courage or friendship during the War, with prizes including a day with a genealogist.
One participant, David Appleton (above), has already signed up after planting four trees at the Centenary Wood in Epsom. The trees are a permanent reminder of the sacrifice of David’s four great uncles – George Sydney James, Charles Edward James, Henry James and Frances Arthur James – who were all killed within 15 months of each other.
The Centenary Woods are being complemented by three million free trees which are being handed to schools and community and youth groups for planting across the United Kingdom.
Pip explained that the scheme will help to improve the UK’s status as one of Europe’s least-wooded countries, with coverage of 13 per cent compared to an average of 44 per cent.
She said: “At a time when our woodland cover is so low compared to other countries, planting trees now is more important than ever. As well as representing enormous strength and bravery shown by the nation during the First World War, the trees that are planted during the course of the project will help strengthen our natural landscape, increasing its resilience to the threats posed by pests and diseases.”
To find out more about the project, visit www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/support-us/support-an-appeal/centenary-woods