Stephen Haywood from Thames21 introduces Enfield Chase Restoration Project, which aims to plant 100,000 trees in the borough
Enfield residents will soon be gifted with a new woodland to explore and enjoy.
For generations to come, we will once again be able to see parts of Enfield Chase as the forested land it once was, centuries ago. However, instead of foraging for firewood as our ancestors did, or hunting for wild boar or deer like many past royals, the focus is on nature, recreation, and helping London become more resilient to climate change.
This ambitious tree-planting project – launching next month – will see 100,000 trees planted over 60 hectares of land in the next two years. The project is being managed by Enfield Council and delivered in partnership with Thames21, their corporate partners, and local people. Not only will Thames21 be able to bring its wealth of experience delivering practical volunteering events to the project, but also our driving mission of improving the health of our rivers and waterways.
This opportunity has evolved from a government-funded natural flood management pilot study. We identified certain areas of land that were seen as being suitable to plant trees and hedgerows, reducing the risk of flooding to homes, businesses and infrastructure downstream.
When planted in the right places, these trees will join islands of existing woodland together and increase the amount of water being able to infiltrate the ground. As well as providing cover, the trees increase the roughness on the ground’s surface and slow water flowing over the land, combined with an established canopy that will intercept heavy downpours; the water will have more time for the ground to naturally absorb, retain, and release it over time.
The more natural areas created will also assist in regulating a cooler air temperature, reduce the amount of soil erosion, and stabilise the flow of water all year round, thus creating an overall healthier river and catchment.
This swathe of publicly-accessible green space will incorporate a mosaic of diverse habitats for wildlife; areas of dense woodland, more sparsely-planted open space, wetlands, and areas of natural regeneration that will complement the existing ancient woodland, the natural floodplain, and rich meadows of Botany Bay.
Over the last several months the area has seen a large increase in footfall and more people taking the opportunity to exercise and reconnect with nature. With this in mind, and the potential for additional health and wellbeing benefits for more people, an upgraded footpath has been designed to increase accessibility. It will snake through the Salmons Brook valley, from the top of Trent Park towards Royal Chace Hotel. An improved crossing into the Turkey Brook catchment will also make for a safer and more enjoyable experience.
Although the overall management of this area will be the responsibility of the council, everyone involved feels that it would be amazing to establish a ‘Friends of Enfield Chase’ group which could guide the establishment and maintenance required to allow nature to thrive for years to come.
For more information and how to get involved: