I've loved dogs for as long as I can remember. As a boy, every time I blew out the candles on a birthday cake or dropped my pennies in a wishing well, I'd wish for a dog. They came true when I was 5 years old and we welcomed a tiny (and very cute) Border Collie pup, Bonnie, into the family.
She was a significant part of my life for 13 years and it was a huge loss when she died. I still think about her a lot and last year, more than 20 years later, I decided to have a tree planted in her memory. Even after all this time I found it to be a surprisingly moving process as I remembered how much she had meant to me as a boy.
The National Forest
There are several organisations offering tree planting as a tribute to a lost loved one or pet. I settled on the ‘Dedicate a tree’ option with the National Forest.
The National Forest is an ambitious regeneration project consisting of 200 square miles of mixed habitat forest which spans across parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire. Their objective is to reconnect the two ancient forests of Charnwood and Needwood.
You can choose to plant an Oak, Lime, Hazel, Silver Birch, Rowan or Wild Cherry (or let them choose for you). I went with the oak for its provision of rich wildlife habitats and its acorns which provide food for a variety of species including mice, squirrels and birds.
Your donation of £15 includes a certificate with a personalised message which you can download and print. There are a few designs available and it’s a nice little keepsake.
Established in 1995 as a charity and non-profit, the National Forest have planted more than 8.9 million trees so far.
Just a few weeks ago, almost a year since I made the dedication, I received an email notification that my tree had been planted (along with all the other dedications) at the National Forest site at Eastern Old Parks near to Ashby de la Zouch, in Leicestershire. It’s possible to visit the area along one of the suggested walking routes and while it’s not possible to see an actual tree, I would like to visit and see what I helped to create, in my small way… any excuse for a good walk.
The UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, the Woodland Trust have been planting and protecting woodland across the UK since 1972 with more than 47 million new trees planted.
For a suggested donation of £20 you can dedicate a tree for your pet with a similar service to The National Forest, the main difference being that you can choose where you’d like your tree to be planted. They have more than 50 woodland sites in England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland, and you can dedicate the planting of a single tree in almost 30 of those locations. There were no locations near to my home in Brighton so I chose Parc Mawr on the lower slopes of the Carneddau Mountains in northern Snowdonia. I had a lovely walking weekend in the Conwy valley in 2019 and it’s a place I’d love to return to. The North Wales Pilgrim's Way passes through the wood so I plan to go walking there when it's possible.
Non-native conifer and beech trees were planted at Parc Mawr in the 1960s and Dutch Elm disease saw off the remaining elms in the 70s but some of the original ancient woodland has survived. The Woodland Trust are introducing new planting to recreate a young broadleaved woodland.
At the time of writing, these were the available woodland locations:
- Miltonrigg Woods, Brampton nr Carlisle
- How Tun Woods, Barrow in Furness
- Spud Wood, Lymm (nr Warrington)
- New Moss Wood, Cadishead (nr Salford)
- Credenhill Park Wood, Credenhill (nr Hereford)
- Uffmoor Wood, Halesowen (nr Birmingham)
- Lineover Wood, Dowdeswell (nr Cheltenham)
- Stoke Wood, Stoke Lyne (nr Bicester)
- Havering, Romford
- Dering Wood, Pluckley (nr Ashford)
- Theydon Bois, Epping Forest
- Avon Valley Woods, Woodleigh (South Devon)
- Hardwick Wood, Plympton (nr Plymouth)
- Glen Finglas, Brig o'Turk (Loch Lomond & The Trossachs)
- Lang Craigs, Dumbarton
- Ledmore & Migdale, Spinningdale
- Abriachan Wood, Loch Ness
- Glencharnoch Wood, Carrbridge (Cairngorms)
- Backmuir Wood, Muirhead
- Moncreiffe Hill, Perth
- Formonthills, Glenrothes
- Geordie's Wood, Muckhart
- Blaeberry Woodland, East Whitburn
- Parc Mawr, Henryd (Snowdonia)
- Coed Nant Gwernol and Coed Hendrewallog, Abergynolwyn (Snowdonia)
- Coed Tregib, Llandeilo (Brecon Beacons)
- Cwm George & Casehill Woods, Dinas Powys (nr Cardiff)
- Drumnaph Wood, Maghera (County Londonderry)
You receive a downloadable factsheet about your chosen location and a certificate with your dedication and personalised message. You can also have them sent by post if you're buying the dedication for someone as a gift.
I'm planning to look into more of the tree planning options available and will keep this page updated. Here are a couple of options I plan to check out: