This week marks the launch of the ‘Forest of Thanks’ in Parsloes Park in Dagenham, a dedication to the NHS staff, Keyworkers, and every other individual who worked above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is the result of robust partnership working within the Thames Chase Community Forest and has involved the planting of 28,000 trees, using the Miyawaki method, with a further 3,000 planned to be planted in 2021 with the local community (COVID-19 restrictions allowing).
Thames Chase Volunteers were engaged to support the planting and were instrumental in achieving the target of 28,000 trees in 2020. The trees were planted using the Miyawaki method, which develops a forest of 30 times density, 10 times faster than conventional planted forests. Whilst it is acknowledged that this method is not going to apply to every new woodland creation project in Thames Chase, it has been ideal for the Forest of Thanks project at Parsloes Park.
The project has been a unique partnership between Thames Chase Trust, the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), Natwest Group, the SUGi Project, and Down to Earth.
As Becky Gibson, Team Leader of the Thames Chase Volunteers commented “It was exciting to work at a new location and experience a whole new method of tree planting. As a group, we often plant 1500 trees most winters with schools and other community groups using the traditional method, so this was a whole new approach and due to all the ground preparation and mulch we are confident that the trees will have a great start.”
As one of the Thames Chase Volunteers, Stephen Green commented on the project, “It felt as if we really achieved something as a group.”
Dave Bigden, Thames Chase Trust Consultant Forest Director commented, “Since its inception in 1990, Thames Chase Community Forest has worked in close partnership with the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham to improve the Dagenham Corridor and surrounding area for people and wildlife. The Forest of Thanks project epitomises the work of the Thames Chase Trust and aligns perfectly with the aims and objectives of the Thames Chase Plan. The project owes its success to our strength in partnership and the energy invested by volunteers. The benefits of the project will be far reaching, not only for landscape and biodiversity but in recognising the dedication of NHS staff, Keyworkers and every other individual who worked above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide a place to rest, pause and reflect and in time, will mean so much to so many.
This first stage of planting is during National Tree Week (28 November – 6 December), and once completed the ‘Forest of Thanks’ will be the largest Miyawaki Forest in the UK and Europe.