A tree planting ceremony took place today at Longford Park, Foleshill, to mark the completion of the Guru Nanak Dev Ji Woodland.
Over 550 native trees and shrubs have been planted throughout Coventry’s parks and green spaces, to commemorate the 550th birth-anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Lord Mayor of Coventry, Linda Bigham and Jon Davis, Dynamic City Senior Producer Coventry City of Culture 2021 were on hand, along with Lady Godiva, Pru Porretta and Sarah Pearson from the Woodland Trust to plant commemorative statement trees donated by the local community.
Jon Davis and Palvinder Singh Chana, Chairman, Sikh Union, unveiled a special plaque to a statement tree specifically dedicated to Coventry being chosen as the third UK City of Culture 2021.
Inspirational prayers initiated proceedings, along with dignitaries from local Churches, Mandhirs (Hindu Temples)and Gurudwaras, with snacks and refreshments provied by local humanitarian aid organisation Langar Aid, Coventry.
Hundreds of pupils from Longford Park, Grange Hurst and Joseph Cash Primary Schools planted saplings, through a collaboration with a focus on encouraging young people to plant more trees to combat the effects of climate change.
Planned in conjunction with Coventry Council and the Park Service Rangers, the Sikh Union, along with The Friends of Longford Park, and a team of dedicated volunteers, have planted a variety of five native trees and shrubs, including Northern Red Oak, Acer, Hazel, Common Hawthorn and Crab Apple.
Chenine Bhathena, Creative Director of Coventry City of Culture Trust says:
“Working with Coventry’s active citizens and communities is a core part of our plans for our year as UK City of Culture in 2021, and the impact that this project continues to have highlights the power of collaborative action across this city.
“Coventry City of Culture Trust is delighted to have a tree planted in our honour. We’re committed to creating projects in 2021 that celebrate and improve the city’s bio-diversity and offer residents opportunities to get outside and reconnect with our beautiful green spaces and wild life.
“We plan to be the most sustainable year of culture and offset our carbon footprint wherever possible. We look forward to continuing to work with the Sikh community in the run up to, during, and after 2021.”
John Tucker, Director of Woodland Outreach at the Woodland Trust, says:
“The Woodland Trust is delighted to be working with the Sikh community in Coventry to get so many trees in the ground.
“Trees play a vital role in our lives. They provide shelter and shade, protect our soils, filtrate our water, provide a home for wildlife, add value to our streets and give us a place to relax and unwind.
“They play a pivotal role in the fight against climate change, cleaning our air, storing carbon and producing oxygen, and that’s why we need them like never before.
“We hope as many people as possible will follow the example of the local community, plant trees and dig in for all our futures.”
Palvinder Singh Chana, Chairman, Sikh Union Coventry says:
“Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first embodiment of Divine Light in the Sikh religion, laid the foundation for our sacred vision for the environment stated: ‘Air is our Guru, water is our father, the earth is our mother. They give us life, we sleep in their laps night and day, in which the entire world plays.’ (Guru Granth Sahib p.8)*
“We honour this wisdom by believing that all humans have an intrinsic sensitivity to the natural world, and that a sustainable, more just society is possible, where water, air, land, forests, and biodiversity remain vibrant, living systems for our generation and future generations.”
Jen Goode, Deputy Head, Longford Park Primary School says:
“We passionately believe in fostering positive relationships with the local community, with an emphasis on children to demonstrate respect, understanding and acceptance to all.
“Collaborating and working alongside the Sikh Union is a wonderful opportunity for the children to engage with the wider community, whilst understanding the significance of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th birth-anniversary.
“Our school backs onto Longford Park and the project continues to be a unique opportunity to educate the children about their local surroundings, whilst developing a new woodland area.
“We hope that the morning will provide the children with an opportunity to discover, explore and conserve the wild space and we hope that this will encourage them to care for the spaces around them in the future.”
Linda Bigahm, Lord Mayor of Coventry says:
“The growing of a woodland in Longford Park, began when our family noticed a faded plaque within some trees, with the words, “Recognise all the human race as one” Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
“We went on to discover that three hundred trees had been planted in 1999 by Sikh staff at Marconi as a contribution to the Millennium Forest
“From these humble beginnings, a unique partnership has developed between the Friends of Longford Park, the Sikh Union, local school children, and the City Council’s Park Rangers.
“The last few years has seen the planting of a community orchard and 1500 new trees with under planting. This will now be added to by another 550 trees this year to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.”
The initiative is part of a wider global effort by Eco-Sikh, an environmental organisation based in Washington, USA to plant over 1 million trees around the planet to mark the 550th birth-anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.