On the eve of COP28, Bradford Cathedral achieved the status of the 849th Silver Eco Church in England and Wales. A Rocha UK, the Christian conservation charity, bestowed this award upon the cathedral, recognizing its dedication to harmonizing with nature and prioritizing the care of creation. Notably, it is the 16th Church of England Cathedral to attain a Silver award.

Bradford Cathedral collaborated with various organizations, including Bradford Council and ‘Forest for Bradford,’ for the Woodland Project to secure the silver award. Initiated in 2015, the project originally aimed to offset the cathedral’s paper usage but evolved significantly, resulting in the planting of over 1800 trees across two sites. Plans are underway to further expand this initiative.

The Revd Canon Ned Lunn, Canon for Intercultural Mission and the Arts and chair of the Cathedral’s EcoGroup, says; “This award is a long time in coming. Bradford Cathedral was one of the first Eco Congregations and was the first Cathedral to install solar panels back in 2012. We have never taken our pioneering work for granted and have continued to seek to lead the way amongst cathedrals and the Diocese of Leeds in safeguarding the integrity of Creation.

“It is the innovation and creativity of our dedicated Eco Group, past and present, that is being celebrated with this award. We look ahead to expanding our work and achieving our goal of becoming Carbon Net Zero by 2030. You can join us on our onward journey. Look out for environmental-themed events and activities or join the Eco Group and help us to dream of a brighter, cleaner and more sustainable future.”

A Rocha UK’s mission is to empower churches and individuals to contribute to the restoration of biodiversity at a local level during this crucial decade for the climate. In its seventh year, the ‘Eco Church’ award scheme unites a national community of churches addressing the environmental crisis, utilizing a common framework, an online toolkit, and collaborative learning and advocacy. The first Eco Church award was presented to Hilfield Friary, Dorchester, in June 2016. Presently, over 6,300 Eco Churches in England and Wales, nearly 10% of all churches, are part of the Eco Church community. A Rocha UK aims to involve at least 25% of churches in ongoing nature protection and climate change action through the free scheme by 2025.

Lucy Foster, Eco Church officer for the North of England, explained; “Our huge congratulations to Bradford Cathedral on the achievement of their silver Eco Church award. They are exemplary in so many ways, from their strategic commitment to environmental action across all parts of the cathedral’s life and operations, sustainable energy projects (both existing and planned) along with the plan for nature in the cathedral grounds and aspirations for the gift shop and working with British wool, for instance. Their work with the other cathedrals over Net Zero is an excellent approach.

“They have a great understanding of Eco Church as being a holistic reflective practice and the opportunity to be a great inspiration for many cathedrals, especially those in industrial / post-industrial & multicultural cities and towns, as well as for churches in the diocese. We celebrate with them all they are doing to renew the face of God’s earth. They are such an inspiration!”