Thousands of new trees to give Enfield ‘green lungs’

Up to 100,000 trees are set to be planted by Enfield Council in a massive woodland creation project in the north west of the borough.

The Enfield Chase Restoration will create a publicly accessible, sustainable woodland covering an area equivalent to the size of Greenwich Park and there are plans to extend the planting strategy even further across Enfield in the future.

The Mayor of London has awarded Enfield Council £748,000 to kick start the first phase of the project and the Council will contribute £150,000.

The funding will help create at least 60 hectares of new native species woodland across Council-owned land in Enfield Chase, an area which was historically wooded. The Forestry Commission will also provide additional grant funding of around £425,000 and the project will be delivered by Enfield Council with the help of Thames21.

Importantly the woodland will help to combat the effects of climate change in Enfield. Trees absorb carbon dioxide which means they can help to stop rising temperatures, keep soil moist and reduce the risk of flooding to homes and the surrounding area. It is estimated that 100,000 trees can capture around 234 tonnes of carbon emissions per year which will help the Council offset the emissions it cannot reduce to zero.

In addition, 3km of pedestrian routes will be improved from the west to the east of the borough. This will improve accessibility to green spaces, particularly for those living in the more deprived and densely populated wards in the east.

Enfield Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Ian Barnes, said: “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.

“Enfield Council has some ambitious plans for woodland creation and this is just the start. We are also mindful of the historical context of the area which will be preserved and enhanced. 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. We would also like to reintroduce beavers to our streams and goshawks to our skies but it's still early days for that ambition."

Thames21 Natural Flood Management Programme Manager, Stephen Haywood, said: “Thames21 are delighted to help deliver this amazing programme to restore London’s natural heritage and to give Londoners more opportunities to get involved with the ecological emergency as well as reconnecting with each other after lock-down. As well as using natural processes and planting to reduce risk of flooding, the new trees will stabilise the soils, preventing their erosion, with benefits felt as far away as the Olympic Park. The project also creates a series of mini-wetlands which will help prevent pollution from reaching the river.”

As well as restoring the woodland area, accessibility will be improved with an upgrade to the public footpath that connects Trent Park to Forty Hall. There will also be an opportunity for rewilding and support for wildlife and bio-diversity. It is hoped that, with the help of Thames21, Enfield Council will be able to mobilise communities, stakeholders and volunteers to help shape the new woodland and introduce jobs and training opportunities. The first phase of planting will begin in November 2020.

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