“Over the last couple of years I have been drawing together a group of local people interested in conservation volunteering in a local urban green space, Clocktower Park, which is a few minutes walk from home. We have pruned a community orchard; planted yellow rattle seed in order to encourage more wild flowers into the areas of grass that are left long; cut back some of the brambles; engaged with the council on the cutting regime and other aspects of management; hosted a Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust event, and done a few community facing events such as the Big Butterfly Count and the Big Garden birdwatch.
“In the spring we had a couple of work parties in the diary which of course were cancelled. Knowing that a lot of local people would be walking in the park and kids off school, in early lock-down I put together a nature spotter sheet which I made available through our Facebook group and was shared in a few other local community groups. A lot of that was flowers and blossom that would be gone after a month or so, so I planned another. I realised that a tree trail was the one thing that could stand over several months without quickly going out of date, so that became the plan. My daughter, Seren (age 12, pictured here) worked with me on it.
“It took a while to get together, needed a bit of research as well as liaison with the Council Tree manager but it has just gone into place, in early July. There is a downloadable sheet with information about the trees and instructions for how to use it, both for adults and for children, as well as ‘labels’ on the trees in the park, with the name of the tree, a small piece of information and signposting to the Facebook group.
“The hope is that it will encourage residents who visit to notice and appreciate more of what is on the doorstep, and perhaps for some to spark a deeper interest and commitment to the natural world. It is also a means of community building, with online communication via the Facebook group for the moment, but also more people involved with what we are doing when we feel the time is right for our next work party or community event.
“It is an open project for the whole community rather than a church project, though core members know that I am a Christian and work for the Diocese. There may come a time when some want to explore a Forest Church gathering, but the time is not yet right, and for now the focus is on community and nature. It is a question I am holding before God, taking a step at a time to see what emerges.”