New woodlands to mark war centenary
Plans to mark the centenary of the First World War by creating four new woodlands and planting millions of trees have been unveiled by the Woodland Trust.
Four flagship woodlands - one each in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - will be planted as part of the £12 million project to provide a memorial to the Great War which should last for hundreds of years.
More than three million free trees will also be provided for schools, communities and youth groups to help create hundreds of woods that will stand as a legacy to those who died, fought or lost loved ones between 1914 and 1918.
The Woodland Trust announced that it planned to plant the English Centenary Wood on a 640-acre site near Epsom, Surrey.
The site at Langley Vale, which is bigger than the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will be home to more than 200,000 trees, linking up pockets of existing woodland.
Sites have also been identified for the centenary woodlands in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and members of the public will be able to dedicate trees to ancestors at the woods.
A thousand acres of woodland will be created by the four flagship sites.
The Trust said it hoped land owners and communities across the country would also get involved in creating hundreds of other woods, containing millions of trees.
Woodland Trust project director Karl Mitchell said: "The trees planted during the course of this £12 million project will stand for hundreds of years, providing a lasting tribute to all those involved in the First World War.
"We hope to see many thousands of people getting involved by planting their own tribute or dedicating trees in memory of loved ones."
He added: "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."
The Woodland Trust will deliver the Centenary Woods project in partnership with Sainsbury's, whose chief executive, Justin King, said planting trees and creating woodlands was a fitting tribute to the sacrifices made during the First World War.
"I especially think of my late great grandfather, Charles Robert Avery, who was a Bombardier in the First World War and it is pleasing to know that I can ensure his contribution will be permanently remembered, along with many others," he said.
The first trees will be planted this autumn and the project will continue until autumn 2018.