MORE than 500 trees will be planted on a major Portsmouth roundabout to mark an important occasion for the city's Sikh community.
In line with the 550th birth anniversary of the religion's first leader, Guru Nanak Dev Jik, 550 trees will be planted on the A27 flyover roundabout at the top of Eastern Road this autumn.
It comes as part of a worldwide move to plant 1 million trees in celebration of the event, which is traditionally honoured in November.
A total of 420 trees have already been pledged to the project by The Woodland Trust through its free trees for schools and communities scheme.
Member of Portsmouth's Sikh community, C S Chadha, explained how the anniversary was being marked across the world. 'The Indian and Pakistan governments are going to allow pilgrimages to his birthplace, which is now in Pakistan, this year,' he said.
'And the group EcoSikh is aiming to plant a million trees this year in 1,820 locations. We thought it would be a good idea for us to also plant 550 trees.'
Mr Chadha, education officer for the Punjabi Educational Social Cultural and Religious Organisation in Portsmouth, added: 'We felt that this area of very dense traffic so it would also benefit from this to improve air quality and pollution management.
'The Woodland Trust has been very helpful. We would like to thank Portsmouth City Council, The Woodland Trust, the Scouting Association of district of Portsmouth and the High Commission of India in the UK for their help with this.'
It is thought there are around 50 Sikhs living in Portsmouth at the moment.
Portsmouth council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'The council has been thinking for a long time about planting trees on the roundabout north of Eastern Road but we didn't have the money to do it.
'This was the perfect opportunity to do that and do something for the Sikh community. Not only this but it's another way to tackle air pollution.'
The trees planted will be a mix of hawthorn, dogwood, wild cherry, silver birch, rowan and hazel.
An official tree planting ceremony will take place on the roundabout at 11am on Saturday, November 23.