T
he Forest of Memories will be planted in remembrance of all the loved ones lost because of Covid-19. But, it will also be grown in acknowledgement of the ordinary people who continue to overcome adversity and personal challenges during the pandemic. Challenges of loneliness, mental health, and much more were all existing (and sometimes hidden) issues, but these (and many more) have all been highlighted by the pandemic and lock-down measures.

The Groves of Reflection is an important aspect of the Forest Plans for the Forest of Memories. They will be designed to help Forest visitors to remember all those impacted by Covid-19, and give support to them.  The Groves will also be designed with an educational theme so that future generations have ways to engage and learn about these important humanity subjects.

Journey Through The Forest Of Memories

O
n one level visitors walking through the Forest of Memories will take a relaxing walk viewing sculpture and enjoying the Forest. Along the way, there will be plaques of remembrance where trees have been dedicated to loved ones. On a deeper level, if visitors choose this, the journey will help people engage and reflect on life’s journey and the challenges people faced during the pandemic. The key purpose is to help people address bereavement through remembrance as the final grove of Love & Loss is reached. The end of the journey at the grove of ‘Love & Loss’ will symbolise the termination point of life.

The end of our lives, and those of our loved ones, is inevitable. We must accept the transient nature of our existence and that we are each just a flicker of a flame in the history of our world. We love and are loved, but our lives soon end. We are left only as memories. We live on through others only until memories of us are no longer recalled, and our name is spoken one final time.
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This is the key reflection we can make within the Forest of Memories.

Groves of Reflection Themes

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To help communicate the right messages and highlight the issues in each theme, each of the Grove will have a selected charity as a partner who is relevant to the Grove’s theme. Each Grove will also contain a sculpture or Art installation on the Groves theme and be planted with a forest garden for visitors to sit and contemplate, or just to enjoy the space in tranquillity.


In the beginning, as a new-born, we are at one with nature. As we grow our actions challenge this balance as we consume resources. If we act without thought, our actions threaten our environment, quality of our own lives, and our combined actions could ultimately lead to the extinction of humans. Can the world respond to address the critical environmental challenges we face and create a greener world both whilst we are in, and after, the pandemic?

Lock-down measures hit the poorest families the hardest. From the economic fall-out of the lock-downs, poverty in the UK is forecast to become an even greater issue. In life, poverty denies peoples development both physically and emotionally. It creates inequality that can, in turn, breed resentment, unrest, and ultimately lead to conflict over unequal (or limited) resources. How should we respond to this issue individually, as a society, and globally?

During the lockdown, we saw programmes that tried to remove the homeless from our streets. Evictions were stopped. These programmes have now ended. Shelter and safety are fundamental human needs that support our wellbeing and development. Should we dedicate resources to this problem that will be growing fast due to economic fall-out of the pandemic, or accept homelessness as a natural economic consequence we can’t stop?
 

The pandemic saw issues arise with connections between COVID-19 and BAME groups, and Black Lives Matters demonstrations across the UK. These both seemed to point at social issues, and systemic racial and economic inequality within our society. As babies, we are born equal, without prejudice and without comprehension of the persecution of others. Why is it that inequality and discrimination exists in the world of adults?

The pandemic has impacted the mental wellbeing of millions. People have been cut-off from physical contact. Fear made some prisoners in their own homes. Domestic abuse and suicide increased. Humans have basic needs for nourishment, shelter, security, love, friendship, and self-actualisation. Absence, or loss, of these things, undermines our mental well-being. Has the pandemic reminded us about what we really need to be happy?

Schools, colleges, and universities closed during the lockdown. Exam results were in chaos. Millions relied on home learning. Post lockdown the virus continues and the long-term impact on a generation is still unknown. Through education and learning, we maximise our potential and our contribution to society. If education and a desire for truth create an enlightened society, what will the consequences be for society with education systems damaged?

 

We have seen issues with PPE, testing, and Care Home policy. 10’s of thousands lost their lives prematurely. A national effort ensured the NHS was not swamped, and we supported those on the frontline with rainbows and clapping. But the NHS for many was closed and people died as a result. Has the pandemic reminded us of the importance of access to healthcare for all, and will this be supported post-pandemic in a depressed economy?

We live in an age of rapid growth in technology some have termed the 4th Industrial Revolution. The pandemic accelerated some of these changes.  It created opportunities for some but also highlighted issues for others without access to technology. Sudden structural impacts have been seen on our use of cities, High-Streets, and travel infrastructure. Post-Pandemic, will we see technology used build a society that benefits the many, or the few?

There were 65,000 excess deaths in the UK during the summer. These can be attributed to the pandemic. But these are not statistics, these numbers each represent real people who will be dearly missed. Let us ensure that as a nation we choose to remember this sudden, early, and tragic loss and support the bereaved. Give thanks if this time we were not the ones affected by loss in a pandemic. But, ensure we remember those who were.