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08 December 2022
Working together for the love of trees
Sara Lom

Last week was National Tree Week, the UK’s largest annual celebration of trees, which marks the start of the winter tree-planting season.

Together with M&G, The Tree Council launched the Young Tree Champions programme three years ago and it has now engaged with more than 100,000 children and their teachers across the UK. We have reached out to connect young people with the natural world; we have inspired them to learn about and care for trees, hedgerows and the wider environment; and they have become a #ForceForNature, sharing their skills and knowledge with others.

This work is vital as young people face the challenge of little outdoor playtime (at least 74% of children play outside for less than an hour a day), plus a fear of climate change, coupled with ever-diminishing biodiversity. We know that children feel powerless to make a difference at either a local or national level and many suffer from what is known as ‘eco-anxiety’. Actions like planting, weeding and watering a tree can improve wellbeing and help bring a sense that they are tackling the dual climate and biodiversity crises in a positive way.

Thanks to M&G’s fantastic support of the Young Tree Champions programme, 327 primary, secondary and special educational needs schools have planted 2,705 trees across England, Scotland and Wales. Teachers have led more than 1,000 nature-related lessons – not only planting and caring for trees with pupils in school grounds, but also encouraging everyone to get tree-ly creative with poetry, art, story writing, music, science and so much more. Feedback shows that this has had a beneficial effect on 93% of the children participating, who said they felt closer to nature and understood the importance of nature better after becoming a Young Tree Champion.

Above all, the programme is about partnership. We are hugely grateful to M&G as Principal Partner for helping tens of thousands of young people become a #ForceFor Nature, for greening hundreds of nature-poor playgrounds, and for inspiring pupils to explore green-based careers - some of the most exciting and fulfilling on offer.

Thank you to all those who have volunteered with us from M&G, run quizzes across the globe or visited our stand at the recent community responsibility days in Glasgow, Stirling and London. If you know a school that might be interested in tree or hedgerow planting or might like to join the Young Tree Champions club, they can find out more here: Get involved - Tree Council's Young Tree Champions Benefits include teacher training and classroom materials, as well as the opportunity to attend the annual Young Tree Champions Festival.

© M&G plc 2023

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