Polly Higgins Memorial Forest, visible on Google Earth in 2023

The Big Heart Legacy Forest for Polly Higgins

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Planning a legacy forest is always tinged with sadness because somebody has passed away, but the impact those trees go on to have in supporting life is immeasurable.

In April 2019, UK barrister and ecocide visionary Polly Higgins lost her life to cancer. She had spent the last decade advocating for the global recognition of ecocide as a crime against humanity. After her passing, a supporter of Word Forest approached the team to discuss planting a heart-shaped Legacy Forest in Polly’s name. Contributors from all over the world donated to make this campaign a reality.

Polly Higgins
Image: You and I Films, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Legacy forests can take time to arrange, but after discussions with our charity partners, Awaken Love For Africa, we identified the perfect location for Polly’s 3,000 trees. It was adjacent to their project, The Gideons, an orphanage that cares for nearly 1,000 children. In the summer of 2020, the planting of the legacy forest began, and our colleague, Solomon Owiti, led a group of dedicated tree planters to complete the task.

“It’s a special day in my life to lead the heart-shaped forest project, commemorating the life of Polly Higgins, a young environmentalist who left us too soon. I was truly touched and asked myself, ‘Why me?'” said Solomon Owiti.

The forest was situated on a gentle slope that meandered down to a stream, providing an ideal water source for the saplings during their critical early days. Our team on the ground in Kenya worked tirelessly to ensure that the commemorative forest would be a perfect reflection of the life of the remarkable individual it represented. The Gideons have provided many willing helpers to maintain the forest’s well-being. Three years later, we are delighted to report that the heart-shaped forest has been excellently cared for, grown beautifully, and is now identifiable on Google Earth.

Since the planting, Polly’s 3,000 trees have absorbed and sequestered approximately 750 tonnes of CO2 and other pollutants. They have cleaned the air we breathe all over the planet, created precious new habitats for wildlife, and provided shade for those that need it.

The commodities from Polly’s legacy forest include fruits, nuts, and medicines, which will be shared among the children, teachers, parents at the Gideons, and with the local community.

This lush and verdant living tribute stands as a reminder of the amazing life and work of environmentalist Polly Higgins.

Sue Jueno and The Team

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