THOUSANDS of saplings have been planted at a popular park to mark the launch of a new five-year project aimed at fighting climate change.

Councillors and residents planted 2,000 trees at Spring Lane Park, Lexden, to mark the launch of the Colchester Woodland Project, which will see 200,000 trees planted across the borough.

Mark Cory, leader of Colchester Council, said: “On a cold November morning it was fantastic how many people came out.

“I was really impressed by the number of people who came along to show they care about environmental issues and making our borough even more diverse.

“It was such a highlight for me and one of the best things we have been able to do as a council.”

Colchester Woodland Project was announced as part of the council’s Better Colchester campaign and in response to the authority’s declaration of a climate emergency.

The 200,000 trees will offset around 32,000 tonnes of carbon in their lifetime. During the first year of the project trees will be planted at 20 sites across the borough, including woodlands in Greenstead and Great Horkesley.

David King, councillor responsible for business and resources, said: “There are some great examples of this kind of project elsewhere but we are one of the first to make a meaningful start.

“I think the support we have received shows we have touched a nerve amongst the public and people have a desire to do something.

“There is no division amongst the council on this, we are all committed.

“We have 19 more sites to go and we have begun talking to parish councils, landowners and business owners. The project is about getting everybody involved.”

The next large scale planting event takes place at Tile House Farm, Great Horkesley, on Saturday, December 7.

This story first appeared in the Daily Gazette.