MAYOR of London has announced new projects that will improve Londoners’ access to nature.
Two new woodlands spanning over 84 hectares will be created in Havering and Enfield with close to 140,000 trees planted in the newly acquired areas, which were previously inaccessible to the public.
The woodlands will be located in London’s Green Belt, the majority of which is not public open space despite making up 22 per cent of the capital’s land area.
Despite London’s extensive network of parks and open spaces, some communities don’t have access to a garden or a public green space close to their home.
Black and minority ethnic Londoners, for example, are four times less likely to have access to an outdoor space in general.
To address some of these inequalities, the Mayor has funded 270 community green space projects, planting over 280,000 trees in the capital.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, commented on the plans: “More than ever, London’s green spaces are not only vital to people’s mental and physical well-being, but also to reducing inequality across the city.
“I want today’s announcements to show how we can lead the way kickstarting a green recovery in London, continuing to prioritise the new green spaces that will help deliver huge social and environmental benefits that Londoners deserve.”
The Mayor has awarded a grant of £748,000 to Enfield Council to restore the formerly wooded Enfield Chase area to create 60 hectares of new publicly accessible woodland.
Councillor Ian Barnes, Enfield Council’s Deputy Leader, commented:“The Enfield Chase woodland creation project will deliver a wide range of environmental, economic and social benefits that will reduce the impact of climate change and flooding while also creating a beautiful area to support wildlife and recreation.
“By planting thousands of trees we are effectively giving Enfield a new set of lungs, which will with other environmental measures help to improve the air quality in the surrounding area.
“Along with partners such as Thames21, the Mayor of London, the Forestry Commission and with the help of our farm tenants, volunteers and Friends of Parks groups, we aim to create and sustain a woodland that will benefit the local community and environment for many years to come.”
The project will also fund improvements to 3km of walking and cycling routes to improve access for local communities through the newly created woodland.
The Woodland Trust has also been awarded £493,082 to secure land and extend Hainault Forest in Havering with new tree planting, which will create a new wildlife corridor between the forest and Hainault Country Park.
The project will enable year-round public access to a previously private area of green space in an area currently lacking public open space.
Tree-planting will start in November 2020 and will play a vital role in enhancing London’s green belt.
New woodland will help address the climate and ecological emergencies through storing carbon, reducing flood risk and enhancing biodiversity.
More than 600 local volunteers are expected to plant trees at the sites on special community planting days, encouraging a connection and sense of ownership from the beginning.
The projects will also create new jobs and opportunities in woodland management.