Hugh Myddelton School Pocket Forest

Six Islington Forest for Change trees have been planted in a Clerkenwell school playground to create a natural play area, provide clean air and address climate change.

One of our goals for planting Islington Forest for Change trees is to benefit as many school children as possible. So when deciding on locations for the 200 trees, we prioritised planting locations in and outside schools.

Hugh Myddelton school children in the south of the borough are exposed to high levels of air pollution during their school day. So when they got in touch we were very keen to help.

Associate Head Tim Barber heard about Islington Forest for Change through our campaign and asked if the nursery could be a potential location. He already had plans to create a natural play area for the nursery and was keen to plant some trees.

“We want children to be able to be themselves when they play, even if that means getting dirty. The new playground will give children access to play in and around the trees during their day and bring all the benefits that being in nature provides. We are strong advocates of forest school and will now able to provide this on site.”

Tim Barber, Associate Headteacher

The trees are an important part of the naturalisation of the playground in an otherwise urban environment and will bring numerous benefits to Hugh Myddelton school children. In addition, the school will be planting a hedgerow along the fences creating a green wall that will shield the children from the surrounding car park. The ground will be left to become a meadow and for leaves to fall and rot, returning nutrients to the ground. Tim understands that allowing this natural process to take place, rather than keeping manicured lawns, will nourish the trees. Being able to kick around in the leaves during the autumn, squelch in mud doing the winter and see the blossom in spring will enable children to experience and appreciate the cycle of nature.

The six trees bring greenery into an otherwise urban environment. The increase of nature and green space will bring mental and physical health benefits to the children and help improve their learning. In addition, they reduce the risk of flooding, provide shade on hot days and places for children to play. They release oxygen and store carbon, addressing climate change.

Planting a group of trees together means they are more likely to thrive and live healthier, longer lives. Under the ground, the trees communicate to each other, sharing nutrients. Their positive effects against climate change are amplified when they are planted in a group.

Islington Forest for Change is a campaign led by Islington Clean Air Parents and green partners. The trees were donated to us by the Forest for Change exhibition at Somerset House in June 2021. We successfully crowdfunded to fund this project and it was incredibly well supported but residents. Our team also engaged councillors who donated LIFF funds from 15 out of the 16 wards. We are working in partnership with Islington Council and their tree team to plant the trees and agree suitable locations. Our objective is to see them planted in areas most needed and that the whole borough benefits from them.

Islington Council are planting 450 trees this year so Islington Forest for Change trees increases this target by 40%. This project has highlighted the passion residents have for trees and their wish for more in their neighbourhoods. We would like the council to increase their planting targets and aim for 40% street canopy cover by 2030.

Islington Forest for Change is a successful collaboration between community, council and business, made possible by the hard work of a team of volunteers keen to bring positive change to the borough.

Schools and parents interested in greening a playground, planting hedges, trees or even a pocket forest please email us:

Published by Islington Clean Air Parents

We are a fast growing group of parents and carers in Islington, highly concerned about the illegal levels of air pollution in the borough. Our members tell us they want to see more action being taken and faster.

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