The Enfield Chase Woodland Restoration Project is one of the first environmental projects awarded a grant from the £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund.
Enfield Council has been granted £679,000 by the Department for Environment, Food Rural Affairs to support increased community involvement in the Woodland Restoration project and improve the management of the borough’s existing wetlands.
The planting of the woodland is being delivered in partnership with Thames21 and funded by the Mayor of London, Enfield Council and the Forestry Commission.
The award from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund will also contribute to at least 20 small ponds and wetlands to improve wildlife habitats, increase biodiversity and reduce flooding. In addition, Enfield’s Public Health team will offer “nature-prescribing” to deliver health and social benefits. This is where nature is prescribed as a non-drug approach to a wide variety of health problems such as mental health disorders and obesity.
Enfield Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Ian Barnes, said: “The Enfield Chase Restoration project, led by Enfield Council will initially come with a commitment to plant 100,000 trees by 2022 but we have a huge ambition to extend our planting strategy much further across Enfield. This will create beautiful woodlands for our residents as well as making a massive contribution to Enfield Council’s plans to make the borough net carbon neutral by 2040.
“Importantly, today’s funding will help us to engage with communities who have, despite Enfield’s reputation of being one of London’s greenest, not had the opportunity to connect with the natural environment. We will develop a volunteer programme, specifically targeting the most deprived areas in the borough, to empower communities to be involved in and manage spaces connected to land and water.”
Thames21’s Chief Executive Officer, Debbie Leach, said: “We’re inspired by the scale and ambition of this partnership initiative with Enfield Council. Working closely with them, we will demonstrate the impact that connecting with nature could have on everyone’s wellbeing. Enfield Council and Thames21 are serious custodians of the natural environment and together we can improve the health of our rivers and the health of the communities living near them.”
The Woodland Restoration project is an ambitious plan to plant 100,000 trees and turn 60 hectares of low-grade arable farmland into publicly accessible woodland. The trees play an important part in reducing flood risks and stabilising soils, which will protect thousands of local homes. "This project uses nature- based solutions (wood and wetlands) to heal the wider environment and particularly the rivers of Enfield and the Lea Valley," said John Bryden, Thames21’s Head of Improving Rivers. "We will monitor the impacts of these solutions and use the evidence to inform local, regional and national policies and practice to ensure the lessons can be replicated to benefit all rivers and local communities."
Tree plantings have started with hundreds of volunteers already participating in COVID-secure, socially distanced events with Thames21.
Find out more about Climate action and sign up to volunteer.
This, and many other projects around Enfield are helping to deliver proposals in Enfield’s Blue and Green Strategy, which aims to improve the borough’s natural green and water spaces, make them more accessible and to involve communities in caring for them. If you would like to be part of Enfield’s blue and green infrastructure plans, you can participate in the online consultation.
The Green Recovery Challenge fund is delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.