Glasgow is set to become host to a network of Wee Forests in and around the city centre. 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) from 31 October - 12 November 2021, will see eight new Wee Forests planted on land donated by Glasgow City Council. Starting from 18 October 2021, locations include 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.
After joining Monday's planting session, 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