A new "Young People's Forest" has been created on the site of a former open cast mine. The Woodland Trust has bought part of the 162-hectare (400 acre) site near Heanor in Derbyshire, known as The Mead. The project, the first of its type in the UK, is designed to engage young people with nature. It is hoped young people will plant 250,000 trees and also benefit from career training, workshops, musical festivals and bushcraft sessions. The Woodland Trust has raised £500,000 but needs another £5m to turn the site into what it calls "a community powerhouse". While all ages will be involved, the site will be aimed at teenagers and young adults. Woodland Trust project manager Paul Bunton said: "We tend to engage with the older community or the very young, so aiming for 10 to 20 years old is a new audience for us and it's going to be fantastic to work with them. The hope of this project is to engage new generations in environmental concerns, help develop within them a passion for woodland conservation and encourage them to learn new skills."
The Woodland Trust is working on the project with #iwill, a campaign set up to increase volunteering and social action opportunities for young people. At the end of National Tree Week (Nov 30th) about 1,000 students, youth groups and individual young people planted about 15,000 native trees.
It comes as the charity commissioned a survey which showed three quarters of young people want to get involved in fighting climate change. Almost two thirds are interested in protecting British birds and animals, 63% in planting trees, and three quarters in reducing pollution and plastic waste. And nine out of
ten young people nationally say they would visit the site. The survey indicated that young people recognise green spaces as being good for mental health with over half saying they would get involved in mindfulness events and workshops in green spaces. The survey of 600 ten to 20-year-olds across the UK was commissioned by the Woodland Trust and conducted by insights agency DRG to chart young people’s appetite to get involved in such a venture.