Professor helps flourish Forestry England & EcoSikhs partnership

A professor at the University of Bedfordshire has helped to facilitate a new community partnership between environmental organisations EcoSikhs and Forestry England.

Gurch Randhawa, Professor of Diversity in Public Health and Director of the University’s Institute for Health Research (IHR), works closely with many Sikh organisations through his research and campaign work, and spotted the opportunity to introduce the two groups.

By planting and developing several ‘One-ness Groves’ – dedicated outdoor areas created for public enjoyment – this new partnership will see new woodland spaces formed with the purpose of being beautiful, natural and mindful places for multi-faith or no-faith visitors to visit, with the purpose to restore and improve their wellbeing.

In March 2022, the first trees went into the ground between London and Essex as part of this new initiative, which aims to be a unified inter-faith response to help combat climate change, global warming and biodiversity loss. The planting of the inaugural One-ness Grove was broadcast by the Sikh Channel.

Alongside his work at the University of Bedfordshire, Professor Randhawa is involved in a number of community organisations, including a role as Non-Executive Director of the Board at Forestry England.

He said: “Given our university research interest at IHR, in improving mental health and wellbeing in green spaces, I am honoured to serve as a Non-Executive Director of Forestry England. I am also honoured to have played a small part in connecting two fantastic organisations – EcoSikhs and Forestry England – who are both committed to increasing access and uptake of the nation’s forests.

“The partnership has been an amazing success with plans to plant a series of One-ness Groves – inclusive community spaces in forests – where communities can come and plant trees and enjoy forests.”

PK Khaira-Creswell, Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs at Forestry England, added: “At Forestry England, we look after forests which can be found at over 1500 sites across the country. We want to ensure the benefits of our forests are known, accessible and enjoyed by all. 

“We are excited by our work with EcoSikhs. This national partnership is a meaningful way to help us with our ambition to connect and build relationships with more people, in more of the places that we look after.”

For information about other projects involving the University’s Institute for Health Research, click here.

*Image credit: Forestry England

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