Suffolk County Council considering ideas for new healing woods, including sensory gardens and natural sculptures
Sensory gardens, specimen trees and natural sculptures are among ideas being considered for new healing woods being formed in Suffolk.
Suffolk County Council last summer unanimously agreed a tree planting programme that would see a series of healing woods formed across the county, giving people a quiet space to reflect on loved ones lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ‘first of many’ locations were announced in September: Howard Community Academy in Bury St Edmunds, the Oaks Meadow project in Combs and Little Finborough, the Eye Woodland and Wildflowers Project and the former rubbish dump in Hopton.
During the last full council meeting, it emerged that some will have additional features like sculptures and sensory gardens.
Conservative cabinet member for the environment and finance, Richard Rout, told the meeting: “Our healing woods are locally-led projects and will therefore reflect what the community wants them to look and feel like within the overall parameters of creating a natural wooded green space that enables people to enjoy nature.
“It is important to stress there are many kinds of healing this woodland can help to deliver – space for quiet reflection reconnecting with nature, creating a space where communities separated by the pandemic can come together, healing our natural environment itself, and indeed the focus on the creation of these schemes in the community can in itself be a distraction from the trials of everyday life.
“Some sites may incorporate areas planted to provide more enclosed space, others may incorporate specimen trees or a sensory garden, whilst of course adhering to our principle of right tree, right place.
“Furniture such as benches or natural sculptures might also be used to facilitate their use and enjoyment.
“Officers will provide advice to the local groups on the things to consider and advice on what they would like to do and any practical issues that may entail.
“Our officers are also looking at options of marking each healing wood site on the ground, for example signage at the access points. This will be discussed further with the initial four healing woods projects we are supporting.”
The spaces are set to be owned and managed by parish councils or community groups, with each having their own identity.
They aim to provide space where people can remember loved ones, grieve in a peaceful area, and uplift unused spaces.
Inga Lockington, from the Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent group, said: “Most residents in Suffolk are probably aware of the benefit of walking in our woodland parks and open spaces.
“We all know that woodland and trees and spaces like that need maintenance, we need to look ahead – if we don’t have maintenance of these areas then in 20 or 50 years time they may not look as we would like them to look.
“They must all be accessible for the disabled. There should be absolutely a new way of doing this so that anybody who comes with difficulty walking or in a wheelchair can get there without having to think about it. I hope all this has been thought about so it can be a lovely place for people to visit in the future.”
The council is continuing to assess potential sites, with suggestions able to be put forward by emailing email@example.com.