Help bring back the forests of Bradford at the next cathedral tree-planting day

The Very Revd Jerry Lepine at last year’s tree planting day.

On Saturday 23rd November the Eco Group of Bradford Cathedral will be leading its next community tree planting. Ahead of the day we spoke to Mike de Villiers of the group to find out more about what will be happening, why it’s important, and what you need to bring!

How did the tree planting day come about?

The tree planting day came about when we started planting the Cathedral Wood about three years ago, and we have planted twice at a site in Frizinghall, where we have over 800 trees already. These are growing well, but we need another space to plant! Bradford Council are very keen to support us as this isn’t just a cathedral project, it’s got the backing of different communities who are asking to come and plant.

We are planning to do our next tree planting in Baildon, on the banks of the River Aire, which is an area that is clear.

Why is tree planting so important?

Trees are the natural cover of this country, and we really need to reinstate them and overturn the damage that we, as humans, have done over the centuries. We cleared trees. We think of this country as a green and pleasant land of fields, but if you think about the Roman era, they had to battle through forests. We need to put forests back as we’re now experiencing more extreme weather conditions and trees hold back water.

The Government is giving thousands of pounds towards flood alleviation in Airedale, and that’s mainly for planting trees. But it’s also about restoring biodiversity; the whole of the eco-system relies on the trees.

What if someone has never planted a tree in their life; can they just turn up?

Yes! We have a number of people who’ll be there just to show and help, so if you struggle to get your spade in the ground, we can help you get it in. It’s simple. You don’t have to dig a trench or anything like that. It’s like cutting a triangle in the turf and lifting it slightly so you can slip the tree root in, and putting it back. We’ve had people over 90-years-old planting trees!

What will having more trees in Bradford and West Yorkshire mean for the future?

The Frizinghall site was once an allotment space, and that’s now just a wilderness because people are not allowed to go on it, but Bradford Council have given us permission to plant trees. Within twenty years you’ll notice that there will be a diverse, deciduous forest there, and then we intend to have walkways through it. And that will be happening in various places around the city because there are open spaces where we can plant trees. Bradford will have forested areas. The city is lacking a lot of trees.

What do people need to bring with them on the day?

You don’t have to bring anything. If you want to plant a lot then bring your own spade, but you can just pitch up with a strong-ish pair of shoes and we’ll help you do the rest! We have trees that have been given to us by Government grants. It’s just a matter of people being there to help us plant. The satisfaction of planting something with the community is amazing.

What type of trees can you plant?

We have a mixture: there’s oak, ash, birch and even some walnut, hawthorn and Guelder-rose and other smaller shrubs.

And what’s the future for the site – will it be left to nature?

No, the trees do need a bit of care, certainly for the first three years. A group called ‘Forest of Bradford’ guide us on how we should plant and they will be carrying out maintenance, as they have at the Frizinghall site for two years. It’s all about helping out the trees in case some brambles grow bigger than the tree or bind weed wraps itself around them!

You can find out more about the day and to express your interest at You can join the team any time from 10am to 3pm on Saturday 23rd November when they’ll be planting near Denso Marston Nature Reserve, Otley Road, Baildon. There is a bus service No. 737 – dismount at the stop after St James Church or the Halfway House.  By car, turn into Sapper Jordan Rossi business park for additional  parking. Look for GREEN signs to the planting site.

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