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Published June 5th 2019
New 'Green Lung' created to mark centenary of start of WWl
The world's population can breathe a little easier following the planting of a new wood that also commemorates the millions of people who lost their lives during the First World War. The already scenic Beacon Park in the centre of Lichfield has become even more of an attraction to visitors following the formal opening of its new Peace Woodland on June 4. The woodland, which was designed by internationally renowned sculptor and artist Peter Walker, has been planted with exactly 1,918 trees as a symbol of peace to mark 100 years since the start of the war. Peter, who is Lichfield Cathedral's Artist in Residence, was joined at the woodland launch by around 300 people including representatives from the cathedral and Lichfield District Council, along with volunteers, sponsors, guests and well-wishers.
The Lichfield Cathedral Choir perform at Beacon Park. Credit Hannah Golding
The new wood, which is the only Peace Woodland outside of Jerusalem, comprises a mix of trees including birch, cherry, and oak, with a specially donated Cedar of Lebanon taking centre-stage. The woodland was planted by Lichfield District Council's parks team with the help of volunteers. The Peace Woodland began life as an art installation at Lichfield Cathedral in August 2018 to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War. The 1,918 young trees, salvaged from across the district of Lichfield, were planted in pots and moved to the cathedral to be arranged on the lawns facing the main entrance. Following the exhibition, the trees were moved back to Beacon Park's Community Garden, where they were looked after ready to be planted out in the permanent Peace Woodland, next to the park's golf course. The official opening of the woodland featured music from the Lichfield Cathedral choir, directed by Ben Lamb. It also included the unveiling of a six-foot bronze plaque bearing 1,300 names chosen by people who sponsored the project, many of whom opted for the names of relatives who lost their lives to war.
The plaque bearing the names of 1,300 sponsors and people who lost their lives to war. Credit Hannah Golding
Peter Walker, who is both a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, said: "Memorials and monuments are made of metal and stone and wood. The Peace Woodland, however, is an artwork made of young living trees that will grow and prosper. It is a place to be peaceful and to contemplate and to think about peace and, for those who have dedicated names, to think about family and friends. It is a unique and individual place that says so much about how peace is at the centre of how so many of us want to live our lives." The Dean of Lichfield Cathedral, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, said the Peace Woodland was at the heart of their Armistice year. "We are grateful to everyone who chose to sponsor and dedicate a tree and be part of this peace project. We also thank Lichfield District Council and all the volunteer tree planters who have brought this vision to reality. We hope the Peace Woodland will become a potent symbol: one that reminds us of the sacrifices made in war, and our ambition always to strive for peace, for freedom, and for hope."
Dean of Lichfield Cathedral, the Very Revd Adrian Dorber, at the launch of the Peace Woodland. Credit Hannah Golding
Councillor Iain Eadie, Deputy Leader of Lichfield District Council, said: "Seeing the Peace Woodland now that it has been completed and the trees have come into leaf shows what a massive undertaking it has been. It's a beautiful way for the district to mark the centenary of the First World War and gives a space to contemplate the great loss of war and the shared mission for peace. On behalf of the council, we'd like to thank the whole team at Lichfield Cathedral, especially artist Peter Walker, and all of the hard-working volunteers who have helped us to plant the stunning woodland."