Severn Trent reveal first Tiny Forest sites across West Midlands as work progresses with pledge to create Birmingham 2022’s carbon-neutral legacy



As the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) leads the charge for the region to reach its ambitious target of becoming a net zero region by 2041, their partners at Severn Trent have announced developments to address the threats that climate change and the loss of nature bring.

Severn Trent is delivering a series of initiatives to assist Birmingham 2022 in their pledge to be the first carbon-neutral Commonwealth games and leave a legacy across the region. This work includes the creation of 2022 acres of legacy forests, as well as 72 tennis-court-sized Tiny Forests, to be built in urban areas across the West Midlands. The sites will leave a positive social and environmental legacy, and in doing so, will increase resilience across the region against the threats of climate change and nature loss. 

The partnership has today announced Erdington Rugby Club and Saltley Academy, in Birmingham, and Bloxwich Community Orchard Group, in Bloxwich, as the first successful applicants of a Tiny Forest sites. In addition, further sites in Bloxwich, Wednesbury, Darlaston, Willenhall and Walsall are also set to host their own Tiny Forest sites.

Severn Trent reveal first Tiny Forest sites across West Midlands as work progresses with pledge to create Birmingham 2022’s carbon-neutral legacy

The forests will play an important role in connecting thousands of people with nature on their doorstep and environmental education across the Midlands. As part of this the local community will be invited to help Earthwatch Europe collect data and assess the benefits of the Tiny Forest in their area, including carbon absorption, flood management and the benefit on biodiversity, and community wellbeing as the sites develop. 

Severn Trent and Earthwatch Europe will also provide training and resources for the schools to help use the Tiny Forest as an inspiring outdoor classroom, with hands-on workshops allowing children to learn first-hand about nature and the environment.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “We know the West Midlands will never reach its #WM2041 net zero target without everyone playing their part, and it is brilliant to see Severn Trent doing exactly that.

“As one of our region’s biggest businesses and employers, their commitment to the legacy forests to assist with the pledge to create a carbon-neutral Commonwealth Games is fantastic and also shows how – with the eyes of the world on the UK because of COP26 - the West Midlands is looking to lead the charge in the fight against climate change.”

Liv Garfield, CEO of Severn Trent said: “We couldn’t be more excited to announce the first Tiny Forest sites across the region today, with many more set to follow over the next few weeks. As a company that takes care of one of life’s essentials, we’re passionate about making a positive impact on the communities and the environment where we live and work and these Tiny Forests are going to be a real asset to the West Midlands. 

“The threats of climate change and biodiversity loss are huge challenges for our society and what’s really exciting about the Tiny Forests and our Commonwealth legacy forests is that these new green spaces across the West Midlands will live on long past the games for future generations to enjoy as a space where biodiversity and nature can thrive and flourish.”

Earlier this year Severn Trent invited schools and community groups to apply to host one of 72 Tiny Forests which will play an important role in supporting environmental education across the Midlands.  Each Tiny Forest will see 600 native trees, planted densely in each tennis court size plot of land and will be linked to one of the nations and territories competing at the Commonwealth Games in 2022. 

Liv added: “We know that the success of these green spaces will rely on the right trees being planted in the right place and we’re working closely with our partners to make sure that all the sites chosen are perfect for the trees that we’re introducing. For any schools or community groups yet to apply to host their own Tiny Forest there’s still a few weeks left to express an interest and become a part of this fantastic legacy.’’

Ian Reid, CEO, Birmingham 2022 said: We are so excited to have our first Tiny Forest sites confirmed and look forward to experiencing the nature-rich green spaces and outdoor classrooms in the future.

“encourage more sustainable behaviours and we are committed to working in partnership across our region and will share our learnings with future events.”

Commonwealth Games Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "These Tiny Forests will make a big impact to people across the West Midlands. We want Birmingham 2022 to be the most sustainable Games yet and this planting programme is an important part of meeting that ambition. All the Games partners are working together to make sure our sustainability initiatives - from planting trees to promoting cycling and public transport - have a lasting, positive impact on the local environment and communities."

Cllr John O’Shea, Cabinet Member for Street Scene and Parks at Birmingham City Council, said: “We’ve always made it clear that the benefits of being Proud Host City for the Commonwealth Games means the event has to be more than eleven days of great sporting action. That’s why it is really pleasing to see projects like this being delivered, with the sites selected in Birmingham helping to improve our shared environment, health and wellbeing as well as underlining our credentials as a Tree City of the World.”

Tim Cleary, Parks and Countryside Operations Manager at Walsall Council said: “We are really excited about this opportunity and that we have been able to find so many suitable sites across the Walsall area, this will bring new green spaces into our communities and help to enhance some existing sites too. The benefits of this collaboration with Severn Trent and the Commonwealth Games will leave a lasting legacy for these communities and will bring a new lease of life to the groups and volunteers that are already very active in trying to make a difference.”

In addition, Severn Trent is working with the Forestry Commission to assess land for planting suitability. The 2022 acres of open access forests across the Midlands will feature native UK grown broadleaf species, and will not only increase and improve nature in the region but will also help offset the carbon generated by the Games.

Tree planting is set to commence before the end of 2021, subject to planning, and more locations will be confirmed around Birmingham and the Midlands in the weeks and months ahead. 

Schools and community groups in the West Midlands have until Friday 26th November to express an interest in hosting a Tiny Forest. Applications also remain open for land owners interested in being part of the Commonwealth Forest. All applications can be made using the land portal link here

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