Ten thousand native trees are to be planted in the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park this year to mark four decades of u3a – the charity that enables members to learn new things, laugh with friends and live life to the full.
Thanks to the generosity of many of the organisation’s 430,000 members, the original target of planting 5,000 trees in the anniversary copse, close to the England / Wales border, was exceeded just three months after the project was launched – so a new target of 10,000 trees has been set.
Alder, birch, wild cherry, crab apple, dog rose, hawthorn, hazel, oak and rowan have been carefully chosen by arborists from the Welsh charity Stump Up for Trees, because they best suit the surrounding environment.
The trees have been paid for by individual members and u3as from across the country who were determined to use the 40th anniversary celebrations as a platform for education and action on climate change.
Neil Stevenson, the u3a member and trustee who has been leading the campaign, said,
“Our woodland campaign has shown the power of the movement’s combined voice – coming together to protect the environment and climate for future generations.
“The energy and enthusiasm of members is so inspiring.”
It’s not simply a case of planting the trees and hoping for the best. Skilled arborists, based in the Brecon Beacons National Park, will be looking after the trees for the next 12 years until they are established.
From then on, they will be looked after as part of routine woodland management of the national park.
Sam Mauger, chief executive of u3a, said:
“Our members are vibrant, young at heart and have so much to offer.
“And they see clearly that they need to act now on climate change in order to ensure a safe future for their grandchildren, and their grandchildren’s grandchildren.
“When it came to creating a lasting legacy to mark our very special 40th anniversary, the idea for an anniversary woodland was enormously popular.
“Contributing positively to the environment and wildlife, and addressing climate change are things so many of our members feel strongly about.
“So far, we have planted 8,200 native trees – far exceeding our original target of 5,000. We’re doing so well that we expect to reach 10,000 by the end of the year.”
U3a has many active climate change groups, including the online group Countdown to COP27, made up of members from across the UK.
Brenda Ainsley is the co-leader of the group, a continuation of 2021’s Countdown to Cop26 group, which had a presence during the international climate change summit COP26 in Glasgow.
As a trained Climate Reality Leader, Brenda had an audience with Al Gore during the conference.
“We take our responsibility to the next generation very seriously. We know that we must act now in order to combat climate change.
“Trees are vital to the health of the planet, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and storing the CO2 back underground, where it belongs.
“The net annual rate of CO2 accumulation by UK forests is projected to fall from 21 million tonnes in 2020, to around 19 million tonnes by 2030. Through planting trees, bodies like the u3a are making an important contribution to slowing down this alarming decline*.”
Although the woodland will be cordoned off to protect it for at least a year, the exterior can be visited at any time via a public National Trust footpath between Forest Coal Pit and Bettws.
Every copse – an area of woodland made up of 100 trees – will have a plaque commemorating who paid for it and a what3words code – a unique combination of three words which will identify its location via a mobile phone app to anyone who wishes to visit.
There is still time to donate a tree for the u3a’s 40th anniversary woodland – and you don’t have to be a member to do it. Simply register at www.u3abrand.org.uk
Find out more at https://www.u3a.org.uk/