Scientists have said planting billions of trees across the planet is one of the biggest and cheapest ways of taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and tackling climate breakdown. 

As parents of young children the idea of planting trees captured our imagination - here’s something we could do with our families that would be a positive contribution to the big climate fightback. 

But we soon discovered that planting trees wasn’t enough. We wanted to ensure our youngest generations developed the skills and resilience needed for an uncertain future. And to do this we have to create more opportunities for our children to develop a positive relationship with nature. To play, grow, thrive and Go Wild within nature. 

We are a small initiative run by volunteer members. 

What we do

1. Tree planting events for families

We aim to give all families the opportunity to access free tree planting events across the city. We work with specialists to ensure that we plant the right trees in the right spaces.

We create woodlands, hedgerows, community orchards, forest gardens and when suitable plant larger more mature trees to give our new woodlands instant impact. We partner with Sheffield City Council’s community forestry team and host events suitable for pre-school and primary school aged children. The more funds we raise the more trees we can plant. 

Find out more details about event times and dates on our Facebook page (you may need to book via Eventbrite).

2. Creating wilder play spaces in our city parks

We are working with Sheffield City Council and various 'Friends of...' parks groups to create wilder and natural play areas for children.

Playing in woodland, climbing trees, building dens, rolling down hills, hiding in grass and other forms of imaginative wild and unstructured play are essential for building a child’s resilience, creativity, problem solving skills and ingenuity.

Because we know that a lack of time spent outside has a direct link to childhood physical and mental health diseases, our aim is to create more doorstep accessible opportunities for kids to develop a relationship with nature and experience all the benefits it has to offer. And of course these areas become a much needed home to our struggling wildlife too. 

3. Transforming school playgrounds into inspiring green spaces

We are currently working with three schools in Sheffield. We are transforming grass playing fields and concrete playgrounds into inspiring outdoor classrooms. This includes changing mowing regimes and planting trees, hedgerows, green walls and wildflower areas - whatever best suits the space.

Schools do not have additional funding for this kind of project. We need to raise funds for the delivery and maintenance of the planting projects. 

Why is our work important?

To a child a woodland and a wild space is an adventure playground, a school room, a place to build dens, inspire imaginative play and home to never before seen birds, insects and wildlife. 

But woodland and wild spaces have invisible benefits too, research has shown spending time outdoors around nature can improve physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

Trees, leaves and dirt are tangible ways for children to connect with nature from a very young age. Currently the UK has only 13% tree coverage in the form of woodland, compared to an average 35% in other European countries. Doorstep-accessible wild spaces suitable for naturalistic play have disappeared or become inaccessible. Every child in the UK should have access to local wild spaces and at the moment they don’t - we want to help change that. 

It’s not just the physical and mental health benefits that we are after. In the words of David Attenborough, “No one will protect what they don’t care about and no one will care about what they have never experienced.” We need our children to fall in love with nature - and all the physical and emotional benefits it has to offer - to ensure that the next generation continues to care for all that we are fighting to save. The critical age of influence is thought to be before 12 years. Contact with nature in all its forms but particular wild nature before this point will strongly influence a positive behaviour towards the environment in the future. 

How it works

The co-ordination of all our projects is run by a small team of volunteers, all women and all mothers. 

We liaise between landowners or guardians and our expert arborists and ecologists to ensure we create a planting plan that is perfect for nature, children and the local environment.

Once we have a plan in place we can begin to organise and host the planting event, inviting families from across the city to get their hands dirty by planting some trees. 

Frequently asked questions

How do we ensure we get the right tree in the right place?

We follow the advice of the Woodland Trust by planting native broadleaf trees with seeds sourced and grown from the UK and Ireland. This means the trees we plant will be easier to grow and more resilient to longer periods of dry weather caused by climate breakdown. The new woodlands will also provide a crucial home for many of our native birds and insects that would otherwise struggle to survive without the food and shelter these trees provide. 

We aim to plant in multiple locations across the city and into the green belt. Therefore the terrain, type of soil and moisture content varies from site to site. To ensure all our trees have the best chance of survival we also take advice from an independent large scale tree planting adviser, ensuring the correct trees are chosen for each individual location. 

For trees planted in Sheffield City Council managed parks and green spaces we work closely with the SCC community forestry team, who advise on trees to be planted and co-run our tree planting events in these locations. 

Where do our trees come from?

We have chosen the Woodland Trust to be our main supplier of trees. This is because all their seeds are sourced and grown from the UK and Ireland. As a community group we are eligible to apply for 900 free trees per year. 

We are also eligible to apply for up to 950 free trees from the TCV/OVO partnership called, ‘I Dig Trees.’ The trees they supply are all UK native trees.  

Any other trees need to be purchased with funds from charitable donations and we purchase these from the Woodland Trust. We can buy whips for £1.50. However, heavy standards cost £250 each. 

How can I support the project?

Just a £2 donation puts one tree in the ground and contributes to equipment and educational materials. If you can afford as much as £20 we will be able to help a child plant and care for 10 trees. Any more than that and we will be getting closer to planting a small woodland. 

Please donate what you feel you can afford and consider trees as a gift for family and friends. Visit our Go Fund Me page

We are a business, how can we help support the project?

We are looking for businesses that would like to sponsor our schools programme. Your donation would go directly to creating wildlife gardens, planting trees, hedgerows, green walls and wildflower areas within school grounds. Schools do not have additional funding for this kind of project. We need to raise funds for the delivery and maintenance of the planting projects.

Your business could make a real difference to the learning environment of our children. Please email kidsplanttreesuk@gmail.com to find out more. 

Can I come along to a planting event?

Absolutely - we would love to see you at one of our planting events! 

Find out more details about event times and dates on our Facebook page (you may need to book via Eventbrite).

Can my kids get involved in planting trees?

We mainly plant small whips, this is an unbranched young tree (2-3 years old) of approximately 0.5-1m in height. These are the perfect size for small children to handle. 

We also plant bigger trees called heavy standards in some areas. These are more mature trees that have grown to approximately 3-3.5m in height. Grown ups are needed to help the children dig holes deep enough for these trees. The children then have a great time throwing the dirt back in the hole to cover the roots and heeling it in by stamping on the ground around the tree. 

Could you help create a wilder space at my child’s nursery or school?

Most likely! Please email kidsplanttreesuk@gmail.com with the name, location and contact details of the space that you would like us to consider. 

Kid with muddy hands

Help us plant more trees in the Sheffield area

We have big plans for 2021 and need your funding and support to achieve our goals.