Pupils from Howard Community Academy have today (15 March 2022) planted the first of 3,000 new trees in their school grounds.

The primary school in Bury St Edmunds is creating a healing wood, in response to Suffolk County Council’s ambition to create these reflective spaces around the county. Once planting is complete, the space will be open to the public, as well as the pupils and staff.

The school will also continue to work with Abbeycroft Leisure’s Explore Outdoor team to deliver further educational and wellbeing support programmes for the children at the school.

150 native Suffolk Clayland tree species were planted, along with a 5-foot Oak tree as a symbol of the woods that will grow on the site. This Eastern Claylands species mix was chosen to reflect native woodlands commonly found in Suffolk, comprising of Hornbeam, Wild Cherry, Crab Apple, Birch and Oak, and have been provided by the Woodland Trust.

Councillor Richard Rout, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Environment at Suffolk County Council, said:

“It’s a real joy seeing the children get involved with planting trees and being part of something that is going to be loved and appreciated by generations to come.

“This project realises two commitments made by the council: to developing mental health support in Suffolk, and to establish healing woods as a memorial to those we have lost during the pandemic in Suffolk. We want to make nature accessible to everyone, to enjoy the mental health benefits of being in touch with natural environment.

“I’m proud that Suffolk County Council has been able to support this work at Howard Community Academy with planning and expertise – and I’d like to thank the children and the school’s staff, and colleagues at the Woodland Trust for making this possible.”

Alison Weir, Headteacher at Howard Community Academy, Anglian Learning Trust, said:

“The children have really enjoyed planting the trees, and it’s important for them to understand about nature, wildlife, the climate and how they can look after themselves – this project involves all these things.

“We were honoured that the Reverend Val Gagen, a former governor of school, was part of today’s celebration by blessing the wood. Once opened, the space will be for the whole community, whatever your faith or culture.”

Esther Rosewarne, Landscape Partnerships Manager at the Woodland Trust, said:

“It’s fantastic when so many partners come together and provide the local community with trees. Not only are trees a natural solution to removing carbon from the atmosphere as we all tackle climate change, but they will create a new habitat for wildlife.

“Our MOREwoods scheme has funded these trees, and I’m delighted that such a significant tree planting has involved local children, to help them understand the importance of tree cover across the UK.”

The remainder of the 3,000 trees will be planted during the next tree planting season, later this year.