THE South West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison is one of 508 MPs who are planting trees as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a network of forest conservation initiatives to mark Her Majesty’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.
Dr Murrison has planted silverbirch and rowan trees in Biss Meadows Country Park in Trowbridge. They were donated thanks to a partnership between the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s and ITV, which in April screened a documentary, The Queen’s Green Planet, which featured this ambitious legacy project which brings together her deeply held commitment to the Commonwealth and her little-known love of trees.
At the heart of the film was a conversation between the Queen and Sir David Attenborough filmed in the gardens of Buckingham Palace last summer. In a rare opportunity to see the Queen talking informally to Sir David, the conversation ranged from climate change, to conkers and of course trees, and was watched by 6.4 million viewers, making it ITV’s most watched factual programme of the year.
In support of the programme the Woodland Trust provided 50,000 trees for ITV viewers, and via the Rt Hon Frank Field MP, who conceived the QCC initiative, also offered a special commemorative pack to every MP in the UK.
Woodland Trust Chief Executive Beccy Speight says: “We all need trees. They are a cornerstone of our landscape and countryside, forming an essential and cherished part of our cultural identity. They are crucial in improving soil health and water quality, reducing carbon, trapping pollutants, slowing the flow of flood water, sheltering livestock, providing a home for wildlife or a space for us to breathe.”
Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe said the company, the Woodland Trust’s largest corporate partner, was committed to raising awareness of the importance of the UK’s woods and trees, and contributing to their conservation: “I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by woods, so trees have a particular resonance with me. Sainsbury’s recently planted its three millionth tree with the Trust, and the thought of being able to get so many more in the ground as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy with the support of so many MPs is an exciting prospect.”
The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. Established in 1972, it has more than 1,000 sites in its care covering more than 22,400 hectares, and has more than 500,000 supporters. The Trust has three key aims: to protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, to restore damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, and to plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.
The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) is a network of forest conservation projects which unites the Commonwealth nations to save one of the world’s most important natural habitats. Established in the name of the Queen as head of the Commonwealth, the project is committed to raising awareness of the value of established indigenous forests, and saving them for future generations, as well as planting new forest.
Picture shows Dr Andrew Murrison (second right) planting one of the trees in Biss Meadows, with, from left, Jenny Fowers of the Friends of Biss Meadows, Shari Adabashi of the Friends of Trowbridge Park and Peter Barnet of the Friends of Biss Meadows.