The Forest of Memories
There are few better ways to commemorate a friend or a loved one who has passed than by planting a tree in their honour. These living memorials symbolize growth and renewal, and at many sites, offer a place for quiet contemplation. Recently, Lisaard & Innisfree Hospice decided to take this method of commemoration one step further.
Over the years, as the hospice has served the community, it has received many requests from individuals asking that a tree be planted in memory of someone Lisaard & Innisfree cared for. Unfortunately, there was no space on the hospice properties to plant that many trees.
In response, in January 2022, Lisaard & Innisfree partnered with the rare Charitable Research Reserve on the Forest of Memories initiative to not only honour the wishes of those asking that trees be planted in memory of friends and loved ones, but to ensure that their memorials honours those memories for decades to come by building up an environmental legacy.
While an individual donation pays for an individual tree, the individual tree are not the memorial, here. There will be no plaque mounted on or near particular trees. Instead, the trees will be planted together on a five-hectare site at the edge of a forest in rare’s Thompson Tract, close to the two hospice houses that Lisaard & Innisfree run.
IWhile launched in partnership with Lisaard and Innisfree Hospice, rare’s Forest of Memories isn’t limited to people honouring a friend or loved one who were cared for by the Hospice. Anybody who wishes to have trees planted in the Forest of Memories can make a one-time charitable donation of $150 to rare. The funds cover the costs of sourcing, planting and caring for of one of four native species of trees on rare lands – Butternut Hickories, Sugar Maples, Eastern White Pines, and Northern Red Oaks.
A sign will be mounted on a trail near the land where the trees are planted to identify all in whose memory each tree was donated. Depending on what Public Health regulations allow this autumn, Lisaard & Innisfree and rare will host a memorial event to honour the legacy of everyone being remembered in the Forest of Memories. Later, rare staff and volunteers will go to the site and plant the trees. We hope that these memorial ceremonies and plantings will take place twice a year, starting in 2023.
The planted trees will help build out the edge of the forest on rare’s property, connecting two existing woodland ecosystems, building the local tree canopy, fostering natural undergrowth, increasing carbon retention, and expanding the specialized habitat of many plants and animals.
This is why participants who donate funds for trees aren’t able to select a particular tree – each tree will be selected as the most appropriate to plant given the specific location. This ensures that a mix of species are planted, ensuring that the Forest of Memories remains ecologically balanced and healthy.
In this respect, it’s the forest, not the trees, that are the memorial, here. The legacy of those who are being honoured will be remembered for decades to come in the expanding ecosystem that has been planted and preserved by the rare Charitable Research Reserve intact in perpetuity.