By planting a tree in their constituency, MPs will help show that the Commonwealth is a force for good
By planting a tree for the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy MPs can both demonstrate their support for the Commonwealth and help save the world’s forests, writes Frank Field
Over a half of all MPs have already agreed to link their constituency with the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC). Each MP will receive a tree from the Woodland Trust, supported by Sainsbury’s, to plant in their constituency. The trees will be sent to be planted in October this year. 363 down, only 287 to go.
The QCC was launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 2015. This is an idea that came about from Cool Earth which I co-founded with Johan Eliasch 10 years ago. Cool Earth works with indigenous rainforest communities to prevent climate change through deforestation. Her Majesty The Queen has embraced this initiative with huge enthusiasm.
The QCC presents a rare opportunity to unite the whole Commonwealth family and save one of the world’s most important natural habitats – forests. By linking areas of conservation in the Commonwealth, the QCC will mark Her Majesty The Queen’s service to the Commonwealth while conserving indigenous forests for future generations.
Over 40 Commonwealth countries have now formally committed areas of forest to the QCC, with a further seven expected to contribute very soon. The forests of this canopy combined make up the second largest collection of trees in the world, beaten only by the Amazon rainforest.
Given that many Commonwealth members are existentially threatened by climate change, this problem seems more urgent than ever. Tuvalu, Kiribati and Fiji are among those threatened by sea-level rise which is set to cause mass displacement within the coming century. Likewise, many countries in the Sahel region of Africa are being forced to move by desertification, where land has become too dry to inhabit.
Through this UK initiative, MPs from across the House will not only help to slow the tide of climate change but will also show that the Commonwealth is not a relic of our political history. By planting a tree in their constituency, MPs, led by Speaker John Bercow and including Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Philip Hammond, John McDonnell, and Diane Abbott will help to demonstrate that the Commonwealth and projects such as the QCC are a force for good. Once this project has taken place in the UK, I hope to reach out to constituencies across the Commonwealth to ask their parliamentarians to do the same.
Climate change is one of the greatest threats of our time, particularly for small states whose very existence is at risk. An initiative like the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy demonstrates a new politics of the Commonwealth, where this family of countries can unite to protect the planet and share a vision for a fairer society.
It’s not too late to sign up. If you would like to plant a tree in your constituency please contact my office on 020 7219 5193 to make sure your name is on the list.
If you would like more information about Cool Earth and the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, please visit www.coolearth.org. You can also watch The Queen’s Green Planet which aired on the 16th of April on ITV catch up.
Frank Field is Labour MP for Birkenhead