A new small forest will soon emerge on the Istead Rise landscape. On the field just opposite the community centre two hundred saplings have been planted in memory of those who lost their lives due to the pandemic. The saplings are a mix of broad leaf trees, including cherry, elder, crab apple, oak and hazel.
The tree planting is part of a national project, the “Forest of Memories“, and Istead Rise is the second of four locations which have been chosen by the Project. The first was in Runnymede in December 2021. More locations are planned to follow in due course to accommodate a total of 166,730 trees, representing all those unfortunate souls in the UK who lost their lives due to the pandemic. The trees will provide a permanent memorial for those left behind, particularly those who were unable to say goodbye and grieve properly. When completed, the trees will cover a total of 67 hectares, the equivalent of 167 football pitches.
As the trees grow, technology has been planned which will enable those who have dedicated a ‘Memory Tree’ to a loved one to link stories, photos and videos about them. This will provide a very effective facility for future generations who wish to learn more about them.
The Project’s idea for forests is central to the scheme with trees symbolising new life. The aim is to create “a lasting tribute, a symbol of rejuvenation and growth following the pandemic”. The layout for the forests is very specific with the trees planted in a unique circular pattern to represent the transition of life.
The forests will become permanent places for mourners to visit. And with trees crucial in combating climate change, they will in fact benefit everyone.
James Young, Parks and Open Spaces Manager at Gravesham Borough Council, supervised the event. He says: “I am so proud that Gravesham BC were able to help facilitate this lovely project”. Local families who lost loved ones were invited to attend and plant a tree in their memory. Other attendees included representatives from the Forest of Memories, the Muslim and Sikh communities, Kent Police, and other representatives of Gravesham Council.