Sir David Attenborough plants tree to open woodland in honour of late Queen
Sir David Attenborough has planted an oak tree in honour of the late Queen to officially open a new Platinum Jubilee woodland in Richmond Park.
The famed naturalist and TV presenter, 96, described Elizabeth II as a “great lover of trees” and “very fond” of the Royal Parks, and said the new wood was a fitting tribute to her memory.
He shared a strong rapport with the late monarch and selected the English oak as his chosen tree himself.
It is one of the final few to be planted as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) initiative.
The nationwide Plant a Tree for the Jubilee project, which concludes on March 31, has seen more than a million new trees planted in the Queen’s name to celebrate her reign and create a lasting environmental legacy.
It was extended beyond the end of the jubilee year on the wishes of the King to give people the chance to plant trees in memoriam of his mother, who died in September.
Broadcaster Sir David settled the young oak into place in the new four-acre Platinum Jubilee Woodland – which is larger than the size of two football pitches – in the west of Richmond Park, one of London’s eight Royal Parks.
He said he was “thrilled” to be opening it to celebrate the Queen’s life of service.
“The late Queen was very fond of the Royal Parks and was a great lover of trees, so this is a fitting tribute to her memory,” Sir David said.
“Its creation also marks the continuing conservation of this protected landscape, and the wonderful wildlife within, so that it can be enjoyed by many generations to come.
“The Queen’s Green Canopy has created an invaluable national legacy for our children, future generations and the planet itself.”
The oak is one of 70 new young broadleaved trees – one for each year of the Queen’s reign – in the new woodland, joining Dutch elm disease-resistant elms, small-leaved limes, and sweet chestnuts.
They have been planted around a focal point which will later incorporate a seating area for rest and reflection, with the larger canopy trees complemented by smaller native trees and hedging such as hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, elder and dogwood.
It is hoped it will create a new habitat to support wildlife, including the endangered white-letter hairstreak butterfly and the cardinal click beetle.
Volunteers and the local community have worked together to help plant the wood, and Sir David was joined by local schoolchildren from the QGC junior foresters and Friends of Richmond Park Discoverers educational programme, and presenter Clare Balding.
Sir David, who, just like the Queen was, is considered a national treasure, was born in the same year just days apart from the late monarch.
They appeared in an ITV documentary together – The Queen’s Green Planet – in 2018 to mark a Commonwealth project to create a network of protected forests across the world.
He also produced the Queen’s televised Christmas Day address for more than five years in the 1980s and 1990s and is a Queen’s Green Canopy ambassador.
Paul Richards, Richmond Park manager, said: “This tranquil new woodland marks 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign by providing a welcoming community space for all.
“We hope that by enhancing the rich diversity of wildlife within this important national nature reserve, the woodland will inspire discovery and enjoyment of the natural environment for future generations – and that our youngest visitors especially will enjoy returning over the decades to notice the changes in the woodland as the trees mature.”
Sir David is showcasing the natural wonders of the UK and Ireland in his new BBC One series Wild Isles, which began this month.