Solihull Council teams up with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and Severn Trent for Commonwealth Forest at Hope Coppice

  • Hope Coppice becomes first location of the Severn Trent and Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Forests with 9,400 trees
  • First day of planting took place on World Wildlife Day, Thursday 3 March, with Commonwealth Games athlete Anna Hursey backing the initiative
  • Solihull Council also set to receive a Tiny Forest at the Hope Coppice site

The first trees have been planted in Solihull as part of Severn Trent’s initiative to create 2022-acres of Commonwealth Forest across the Midlands. The 15 acres of new habitat at Hope Coppice will be open to the public to explore and will equate to around 9,400 trees. 

As Birmingham 2022’s Official Nature & Carbon Neutral Supporter, Severn Trent is delivering a series of initiatives to leave a social and environmental legacy following Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. This work includes the creation of 2,022 acres of Commonwealth Forests, as well as 72 tennis-court-sized Tiny Forests which are being created across the West Midlands. The new green spaces feature native UK grown broadleaf species, and will increase resilience across the region against the threats of climate change and nature loss.  

Table tennis star, Anna Hursey, who will be representing Wales at the Commonwealth Games, attended Thursday’s Commonwealth Forest planting session at Hope Coppice. The 15-year-old holds the record for being the youngest athlete to compete in the Commonwealth Games, and has been appointed as a United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework ‘young champion’. 

The Commonwealth Forest at Hope Coppice is increasing woodland cover within South Solihull and will complement the Arden Historical landscape, as well as creating more places for people to enjoy. Trees planted at the site are consistent with current species, and areas are being retained within the new Commonwealth Forest as open ground for light recreation and future community events.

The Mayor of Solihull, Cllr Ken Meeson, said: “We are delighted to have partnered with B2022 Commonwealth Games and Severn Trent to plant the first Commonwealth Forest in Solihull. This is a special honour for the borough during a very special year. The Commonwealth Games are being hosted here – with six events in the borough itself at the NEC – and it is also The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee which we are proudly supporting through The Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting.

“Solihull Council has committed to planting 250,000 trees in ten years as part of its Planting Our Future campaign, contributing to our overarching goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions in the borough by 2041. The new Commonwealth Forest will improve the local environment and provide new habitats for wildlife. I hope that this new woodland will become a valued and beautiful place for the enjoyment and comfort of visitors for generations to come.”

Liv Garfield, CEO of Severn Trent said: “Our Commonwealth Forests are going to be a fantastic asset for the region, not only putting a ‘green hug’ around the West Midlands but also leaving a lasting legacy following on from the Games.

“What’s good for nature is good for water and as a company taking care of one of life’s essentials, we’re passionate about making a positive impact on the communities and the environment where we live and operate. Our Commonwealth Forests and our 72 Tiny Forests are all about creating spaces that communities can enjoy and where nature can thrive and flourish and we couldn’t be more excited to be playing a part in their creation.”

Liv added: “We understand the important of the right trees being planted in the right place and we’re working closely with our partners, including the Forestry Commission, to make sure that all the sites are suitable for tree planting.”

Central to Birmingham 2022’s aim to make these the most sustainable Games yet, is the ambition to create a carbon neutral legacy. Focusing on a reduction first approach, the final carbon footprint will be balanced out by carbon offsets, including the Commonwealth Forest across the Midlands.

Over time, as the trees mature, they will remove and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and in doing so will offset a large part of Birmingham 2022’s projected carbon footprint. This process will be validated and verified by the UK Woodland Carbon Code – the best practice standard for UK woodland creation projects in the UK.

Nicola Turner MBE, Director of Legacy at Birmingham 2022 said: “While we are working hard to reduce the Games’ carbon footprint, we know there will be emissions we cannot avoid. Our strong partnership with Severn Trent to implement a credible carbon offsetting project will also provide a sustainable legacy for generations to come. It is really exciting to see the first trees being planted as part of our pledge to create a carbon neutral legacy for the Birmingham 2022 Games.

“Not only will these green spaces support our ambition to deliver the most sustainable Commonwealth Games yet, they will help reconnect people with nature, provide habitats that support urban wildlife and support outdoor learning for local communities.”

In addition, Severn Trent is working with the Forestry Commission to assess 32 acres of land across the Midlands, including locations in Birmingham, Walsall and Staffordshire for land suitability to ensure that the right trees are planted in the right place. 

Forestry Commission Chief Executive, Richard Stanford, said: “As the Government’s forestry advisors and champions of our nation’s treescapes, we are delighted to be involved in this exciting initiative. By fostering the growth of resilient trees and forests across the West Midlands, together we can promote biodiversity, combat climate change and protect the environment for future generations.

“The Forestry Commission is working hard to ensure more trees are planted in the right place, at the right time and for the right reason. Working with trusted stakeholders like Severn Trent to conduct land suitability assessments will be integral to our success, ensuring the trees we plant now will thrive to their fullest extent and be resilient to future threats such as climate change and tree disease.”