The Conservation Foundation has created a number of projects linking Faith to the Environment.

One of the best known was Yews for the Millennium which involved the distribution of young trees propagated from ancient yews estimated to be at least 2000 years old to celebrate the year 2000.  Over 7000 were distributed to representatives of local communities in special services, often held in cathedrals throughout the country. Many of the trees were planted in churchyards.

In 2012 the Foundation published Sharing Eden – Green teachings from Jews, Christians and Muslims written by Natan Levy, Harfiyah Haleem and David Shreeve and edited by Lindsay Swan.  The book set out to show how respect for the environment is at the heart of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. Today’s environmental concerns can trace their heritage through scriptures, teachings and actions known to generations across the centuries.

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A grant from The Mayor of London enabled faith organisations and faith schools to plant trees throughout London to benefit the biodiversity of their local communities. The Trees for Sacred Spaces were specially chosen for their support of pollinators and qualities that reduce air pollution.

In 2018 the Foundation’s Gardening Against the Odds put the spotlight on therapeutic gardening projects being organised by faith communities.  Mental Health issues and loneliness are on the increase and becoming major issues for local communities.  By promoting successful projects through its Green Health Awards, the Foundation is hoping to encourage more churches and faith organisations in urban communities to use their space to establish therapeutic gardens.

Churchyards contain huge numbers of trees that benefit local communities. The Foundation received  a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to organise two conferences on churchyard trees, one at Liverpool Cathedral and the other at St John’s Waterloo in London, and is developing the interest raised by establishing churchyard tree audits and local management plans so that community tree care schemes and citizen science can be encouraged.

Can you help?

In 2019 the Foundation is planning an audit to see how the Millennium Yews are doing and encourage a new generation to take an interest in ancient trees. If you know of any near where you live, we would be very glad to receive news and a photograph. A few Millennium Yews are still available from Trees Direct, who will donate an amount from each sale to the yew programme.

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