Planting now for a brighter tomorrow

A project designed to improve hospital green space, offset carbon emissions and teach children the importance of the environment is underway at Castle Hill Hospital.

School pupils from Westfield Primary School, Hallgate School in Cottingham and Walkington Primary School visited the site on Thursday 24 March to take part in a large-scale tree planting exercise.

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has kindly been provided with 1,000 saplings for the hospital site by NHS Forest and the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. The expectation is that by 2030, the trees will grow to absorb 40 tonnes of carbon, rising to 150 tonnes within 30 years. The project is part of the hospital trust’s ‘Zero30’ ambitions to become carbon neutral by the start of 2030.

Head of Sustainability, Marc Beaumont, explains why it was important to get local schools involved:

“What we do today will directly impact the people around us and future generations to come.

“Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is a major employer in the area but we are also a major contributor of carbon emissions, so we feel it’s our responsibility to act on climate change now for the benefit of our staff, our patients, our wider community and the planet as whole.

“We have set ambitious plans to become carbon neutral across all our hospital sites by 2030, and the solar field opposite Castle Hill is one example of how we’re looking to use more renewable energy. Offsetting is also another key strand of our work, and in the first instance this will involve planting 1,000 trees on the Castle Hill Hospital site.

“Without doubt, some of the pupils who visit us this week will go on to become our patients and our workforce of the future. By involving local schools in the tree planting project now, we hope to spark interest in environmental issues and to help pupils connect with their local environment in a way that will see them continue to care for it in the years and decades to come.”

Pupils were each given the opportunity to plant trees to expand existing woodland in the north east area of the site, and to mark their trees with biodegradable tags. They also received a short talk on the importance of green space to our environment and a special Zero30 pin badge as a thank you for their participation.

Among those planting trees were Year 2 pupils from nearby Walkington Primary School. They benefitted from the generosity of East Yorkshire buses, who kindly donated a special bus service for pupils to ensure they could be transported to the planting session and back in an environmentally thoughtful way.

Mr Bullough, Headteacher at Walkington Primary School says:

“We are absolutely delighted to have been involved in this project.  Young children are increasingly aware of the importance of the actions we all need to take to provide future generations with a sustainable global and local environment, and our curriculum is constantly changing to reflect this.

“After being limited in terms of off-site visits for the last couple of years, bringing the children out to activities where they can get hands-on and learn what other organisations are doing to positively shape the future is both important and memorable.”