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Tree Heroes: Nerys Lloyd-Pierce, The Tree Planter

This year, for National Tree Week, we’re celebrating the ordinary people who do incredible things to champion the UKs vulnerable urban trees. Without these tree heroes, our cities could look unrecognisable, and many of the valuable benefits trees give us would be lost. 

Meet Nerys Lloyd-Pierce, from Cardiff, who has worked passionately for years to plant a new legacy of trees across the Welsh capital, and help to replenish the thousands lost in the city. 

How do you approach a task as daunting as replenishing the loss of a tree canopy equivalent to 34 football pitches with little time, money or resource? Just ask Nerys Lloyd-Pierce, from Cardiff, who has spent over 5 years doing just that in the Welsh capital city. What began as a love for nature and wildlife, and a dedication to the city’s green spots, become a labour of love as part of her role as Chair at Cardiff Civic Society and through its campaign to protect urban green spaces.

“I’ve always had a personal passion for trees and wildlife.” Said Nerys. “Without the natural world, life would feel pretty dull. Trees add to our quality of life, especially in busy cities; whether we always notice them or not! Most of us love to watch things like Planet Earth with David Attenborough, and marvel at the glory of the natural world. But we see ourselves as separate, not integral, to it all. I truly believe it’s up to us to protect and preserve our trees and green spaces, and that’s what I have always tried to do.”

Tree champions like Nerys are vital to maintaining and replenishing the tree stock in the most populated city in Wales. Back in 2008 the Welsh government promised to plant a tree for every child born or adopted in Wales and this year it plans to restock government-owned woodland with five million trees. But progress over the years has been slow in Cardiff; which has seen a staggering loss of 34 hectares of trees in recent years; according to a report by Natural Resources Wales.

It really has been a case of death by a thousand chops for many of our cities trees. It’s a tree here, or a tree there, and no one seems to notice until it’s too late. It’s so sad to see the stumps where street trees once stood, and know that not all of them are being replaced with new ones.

“We have many large parks so it gives the impression that there are more trees in the city than there actually are. One by one we have seen the loss of trees of all kinds across the city, with areas such as Cardiff Bay now being identified as having below national average tree cover. Without succession planting Cardiff will surely experience a canopy crisis when the lovely remaining mature trees reach the end of their natural life.” explains Nerys.

The Civic Society donates tree’s to multiple area’s of Cardiff, this one being in Bute Park.

But there is hope for the city yet. Nerys has been working tirelessly with local residents to raise funds and plant more trees, as part of Cardiff Civic Society’s Canopi Caedydd/Canopy Cardiff campaign, to begin replenishing the stocks Cardiff have lost. Her work with the Civic Society ensures all areas of the city are reached – especially the less affluent and thus less green parts – and that the less known parts are including in the re-greening project.

An upcoming project she will be working on will be to install a new hedge near allotments in Pontcanna fields, which follows a successful campaign (including a spot on the local radio) to encourage more people in Cardiff to plant trees and stop pulling up hedging where they live! The result has been fantastic and Cardiff is slowing seeing itself become its greener self again. This is all thanks to the generous support of local residents, Cardiff Council, grant funders and of course Nerys own infectious enthusiasm.

“I would be love if more members of the public would get in touch, and let us know if there is public open space close to them that could benefit from further tree planting. Cardiff Civic Society are always open to receiving request for more trees in their area, and will try to find the finding to make it happen. And of course, we would always appreciate more help in the form of funds or volunteering! Green spaces are even more important than ever in Cardiff, as more of the city is being swamped by tower blocks – the design of which does not include comfortable places for human beings to relax.” Said Nerys.

So what does Nerys do when she isn’t trying to re-wild Cardiff? Tend to her own allotment of course!

“Everyone says they are not green fingered but I didn’t think I was either when I began! I always say ‘If you like it you’ll soon developer green fingers’ and before you know it you’ll be addicted to growing. When you see a tree you’ve planted, or eat produce you’ve grown, here is nothing more satisfying in life.”