It’s all about the roots! The Zephaniah Forest: 65 trees for 65 years

Benjamin Zephaniah loved trees and nature and wrote poems about how important they were

Benjamin Zephaniah - dub poet, musician, actor and activist - was a Birmingham symbol of creativity and freedom, propelling Brummies further onto the international stage with his prolific and profound poetry.

Universally recognised for his unique approach to his craft – being third on the list of Britain’s favourite poets – having been offered along the way a British Honour, and the status of Birmingham Poet Laureate - both of which he turned down - Zephaniah’s death shook the foundations of the local and wider community. That’s why his youngest brother – David Springer – contacted Birmingham TreePeople on behalf of the whole family at the Benjamin Zephaniah Family Legacy Group, in the hope of carrying on this iconic legacy through a love of trees and nature.

With its good number of tree-pit locations, Newtown’s Burbury Park has been identified as the ideal home for The Zephaniah Forest: a 65-strong conglomerate of poetry-tagged, community-consulted, and communally planted trees, to commemorate the life and works of Benjamin Zephaniah - 65 trees for the 65 years of his inspirational life.


Birmingham TreePeople is planting 65 large trees in Burbury Park, Birmingham, as a legacy for Benjamin Zephaniah

Alongside Benjamin’s dedicated family members, Birmingham TreePeople plan to work with other prominent individuals from across the city as well as nature, community and arts groups, so this mini forest can be planted in his name, and over the years, it'll have the potential to grow further.

The trees will be tagged and documented using TreePlotter software, alongside a Tree Trail to follow the newly planted trees, with dedicated poems associated with each one. This means that 65 poems will be needed for the 65 trees, the first of which has already been written. The TreePeople want to work with the arts and poetry community to achieve this, with possible themes being Benjamin himself, the idea of memory and how we remember, as well as all that's connected to Mother Nature.

During the next tree planting season, which coincides with National Tree Week at the end of November, community planting days will be organised, as well as live poetry readings and music events. The final planting day for this project will be a private ceremony with Benjamin’s family members to plant the ultimate tree, marking the one-year anniversary of his passing.

Birmingham TreePeople is currently in the process of fundraising for The Zephaniah Forest; the initial crowdfunding link is Support and involvement of other organisations with the community memorial project is especially welcome, to create a legacy forest for a legend in the heart of his home city.

For further information, visit

Birmingham TreePeople