Cardiff to become Queen’s Green Canopy ‘Champion City’ for commitment to trees

Nigel Owens Credit: PA Media

Former international rugby union referee Nigel Owens has hailed the importance of trees for wellbeing as Cardiff becomes the latest Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) “Champion City”.

The Welsh capital hosts a Six Nations rugby clash between Wales and Scotland on Saturday and Owens, who is a QGC ambassador, said the “simple green space” inside the stadium will be “transformed into a world stage”.

More than 1,000 trees will be planted in a deprived area of Cardiff on Saturday to mark its new status as a Champion City, a programme celebrating places which have made trees a central part of their plans for green spaces.

The Prince of Wales and the Queen planted a tree at Balmoral Cricket Pavilion to mark the start of the official planting season last October Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA

Owens said: “This weekend, tens of thousands of people will come together at Cardiff Stadium to witness an epic competition made possible when a simple green space gets transformed into a world stage.

“Some of the most thrilling and memorable moments of my life have occurred in this environment – in the middle of two teams locked in fierce battle, with the crowd hanging on every kick and tackle.

“A spiritual home for many, the pleasure of being part of a game hosted on a simple green field is immense.

“In my work and on my farm, I am fortunate to benefit from the calming influence of trees and nature, which always offer a welcome place to reflect on the important things in life.”

The QGC was established to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign, with the public invited to “plant a tree for the Jubilee”.

The former referee added: “On this Six Nations weekend, I am proud to be an ambassador for the Queen’s Green Canopy, who are hosting a special Jubilee tree planting event to celebrate Cardiff as a QGC ‘Champion City’. I would like to wish everyone well and can’t wait to see the result of your efforts.”

Nigel Owens, centre, during his refereeing days Credit: David Davies/PA

The QGC, together with the charity Trees for Cities and Cardiff Council, will bring together members of the local community to plant 1,200 Jubilee trees at Tremorfa Park in the ward of Splott, which has a low number of trees compared with other areas of the Welsh capital.

The trees will contribute to Cardiff Council’s Coed Caerdydd initiative, which aims to increase the city’s tree canopy cover to 25% by 2030, by planting 839 hectares of new trees.

Peter Bradbury, Cardiff Council spokesman for culture and leisure, said: “We’ve come to rely on our parks and green spaces over the past few years and it’s very clear how important our outdoor spaces are.

“These new trees in Splott will bring massive benefits to residents – boosting biodiversity, improving air quality and having a positive effect on health and wellbeing.”