Ben HaywardFebruary 26th
2021

The National Trust is planning to plant blossoming trees, including cherry, hazel and plum, at different sites around the UK.

The idea is to try to create a UK equivalent of Japan’s ‘Hanami’ - the annual celebration of flowers, and the coming of spring and comes as part of a bid to improve access to nature for people in towns and cities across the country with designs being finalised for blossom groves in London, Nottingham, Newcastle and Plymouth, with other sites to follow.

Research carried out for the National Trust last year showed that almost half a million people live in ‘grey deserts’ with no trees or green spaces nearby.

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Hilary McGrady, director general at the National Trust, said: “I want this to be just as valid as planting vast tracts of trees on mountains - it's just as valid for every individual to want to plant a tree in their garden or their city.

"At the heart of it, now more than ever, people need a little bit of soft beauty in their world, and remembering why nature matters."

According to a host of studies carried out after the first lockdown, being around nature is crucial to people's mental and physical health, however according to conservation group WWF, the UK is one of the most ‘nature depleted countries in the world’.

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As a result the National Trust will be calling on the government to commit to protecting the natural world, ahead of hosting the global climate conference, COP 26, this November.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms McGrady said: “We need them to start to put money and action where their mouths are - we need some tangible targets. We want, by 2030, for the government to have halted the decline in nature.

“Covid has taught us lots of lessons, including the importance of nature. The public are behind it.”

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The project, part-funded by the People's Postcode Lottery, and supported by Historic England, will begin at the London site at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Newham, which has been designed in partnership with the local community to be a ‘commemorative space’ where people can reflect on the impact of the pandemic.

Speaking about the project, London Mayor, Sadiq Khan said: "This new public garden will create a lasting, living memorial to commemorate all those who have lost their lives in the pandemic. 

“It will be a tribute to the amazing ongoing work of our key workers and create a space for Londoners to contemplate and reflect on all this global pandemic has meant to our city and world."

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