Children from single-faith schools across the capital came together this week to plant trees in St. Albans, to show their shared love of the environment.

Students from Jewish, Christian and Muslim schools met to plant saplings at the Woodland Trust’s Heartwood Forest and discuss how trees act as natural carbon sinks to clean the air and cool urban areas.

Jewish students explained how the event linked to the upcoming tree-planting festival of Tu Bishvat, Christian pupils shared prayers, and Muslim students shared relevant stories of the Prophet Muhammad and extracts from the Qur’an.

Lucy Bushill-Matthews, chief executive of Muslim Action for Development and the Environment (MADE) told 45 pupils that “the Torah is known to Jews as the Tree of Life,” and quoted Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai.

“He lived in Jerusalem when it was being sacked by the Romans, and cleverly taught the priority of planting. He said: ‘If you should hold a sapling in your hand when they tell you the Messiah has arrived, first plant the sapling, then go out and greet him.’”

She added: “In the Islamic tradition, a hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad) tells us: ‘If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift for him.’”

Rushanara Ali MP praised the pioneering inter-faith work, saying: “At a time of rising Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance, I commend the work of this inter-faith alliance.”

TreeCharter InterFaith Planting Heartwood: