Scottish cities receive £500,000 to plant ‘wee forests’ in Cop26 legacy

Twenty densely packed areas of woodland will be planted in towns and cities across country

Leonie Chao-Fong
Tuesday 04 January 2022 21:31

Related video: Climate ‘apocalypse’ to leave Scotland with abandoned villages, doomed forests and no birdsong within decade

A network of “wee forests” will be planted in towns and cities across Scotland as part of the legacy of the Cop26 climate change summit.

This winter, 20 densely packed areas of woodland around the size of a tennis court will be planted in urban environments in a £500,000 scheme by the Scottish government.

Led by NatureScot and supported by Earthwatch, the scheme is part of the international Tiny Forest programme, which uses a forest management method developed in the 1970s by Japanese botanist Dr Akira Miyawaki to bring biodiversity into an urban setting.

The programme aims to give people the opportunity to be involved in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss by creating and caring for their own forests in their own neighbourhoods.

Volunteers will plant and tend the forests as they grow, as well as monitor the wildlife and measure how much carbon is captured by the trees as they grow.

The “wee forests” project will form part of the legacy of Cop26 and provide outdoor learning opportunities for schools, ministers say.

The first demonstration forest was planted at West Pilton Park in Edinburgh last October.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said the scheme would help provide access to green spaces and allow people to connect with nature.

She said: “The horrors of the Covid pandemic have changed how many of us 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 want to improve access to green spaces and provide equal opportunities for everyone to connect with 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.

“This new network of wee forests is a great example of partnership working between the public, private and voluntary sector and is an important legacy of Cop26 when the eyes of the growworld were on Glasgow and the future of our planet.”

The initiative will be led by the government agency NatureScot. Its chief executive, Francesca Osowska, said: “Wee forests are a fantastic way for people to connect with nature close to home.

“We’re delighted to see our demonstration project being extended to create many more pockets of nature-positive green space across our towns and cities, as a living legacy of Cop26.”

Earthwatch Europe CEO Steve Andrews said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with NatureScot to expand the Wee Forest movement across Scotland.

“Getting communities involved in planting and ongoing citizen science at their local Wee Forest is an exciting opportunity to connect people with nature, whilst providing vital data on forest growth and environmental benefits.”

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