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Force for Nature exhibition opens with special planting along the River Tees

The Tree Council

February 23, 2024

The Tree Council will be joined by community groups and around 300 school children from across the region to plant a hedgerow along the banks of the Tees, mirroring the river’s meandering course.

The special planting will accompany the opening of The Tree Council’s Force for Nature exhibition at Preston Park Museum, Teesside, which seeks to share the voices and wishes of young people for a greener, healthier, more tree filled planet.

On the last weekend in February, parallel hedgerows will be planted to create a pathway across the lower field in the grounds of Preston Park, close to the river. In a tribute to the great waterway that has had such a huge influence on the history and development of the region over centuries, the pathway will mirror the shape the Tees takes around Preston Park.

It will be planted with a range of willow and dogwood, as well as paper bark maple, and river birch trees, to create a pleasing new environment that will welcome human interaction, and deliver a biodiversity boost to the already beautiful riverside setting.

And most excitingly of all, it will be planted by school children from ten different schools and members of the community, to leave a lasting legacy for all to enjoy for generations to come.

Katie Rafferty, The Tree Council ’s National Schools Programmes Officer, is based in Saltburn. She said: “Being born and raised in Teesside, it is a real pleasure to be part of such an exciting project at Preston Park that involves people from all across the Tees Valley.

“We will spend three days delivering exciting workshops and experiences to community groups, school groups and members of the public.

“The river Tees planting project is a fitting tribute and lasting legacy for the area and the people from here, who are coming out in numbers to be a Force for Nature. A big thanks to Preston Park for hosting us.”

The special planting project coincides with the opening of The Tree Council’s Force for Nature Exhibition within Preston Park Museum building. The immersive showcase, part of The Tree Council’s Young Tree Champions programme, is open to the public and features Voices of Nature, a unique installation of lights, sounds and the spoken words of school children throughout the UK, sharing their wish for a brighter, greener future.

As part of the exhibition events, educators from across the Tees Valley will be attending a training session at Preston Park on Monday February 26 to help them engage their young people in nature, providing practical guidance and tips to help Teesside’s children grow deeper connections to nature.

The Tree Council will also be visiting St Peters School, Middlesborough on February 29 where the installation will be unveiled in its special 360 degree classroom.

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Leisure, and Culture added: “This is an exciting opportunity for children, teachers and visitors to learn more about the importance of trees and nature.

“Visitors will be able to explore the magical sounds of a tree’s inner life in the exhibition and can sow their own oak tree seed to take home, nurture and watch them grow.

“Not only will the project bring new hedgerows to the grounds, but it will also help the next generation to be ‘at one’ with the natural landscape and help them to appreciate their environment. We’re expecting around 300 children from schools across the Tees Valley to be involved – which is really exciting!

“It’s a real coup to be able to work with The Tree Council and it’s a fantastic opportunity for local people of all ages to participate in providing a greener future.”

The Force for Nature exhibition heads to Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery next, from March 27 -28.

The Force for Nature Exhibition opens at Preston Park Museum, Stockton-on-Tees, from February 25-27. For more information, please visit www.youngtreechampions.org/force-for-nature/force-for-nature-exhibition/

With thanks to M&G for its continued support of Young Tree Champions, and the Network Rail Community Fund for the trees.

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