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Topic: 100,000 new trees and a new walking and cycling route

100,000 new trees and a new walking and cycling route
11 Aug 2020 23:39 #5636

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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[Original article]

enfield chase restoration project conceptAn artist's impression of the improved path running alongside the Salmon's Brook - part of the Enfield Chase Restoration Project

An award of £748,000 from the Mayor of London plus £425,000 from the Forestry Commission will enable Enfield Council and Thames21 to start work this autumn on creating a large new woodland area in the north west of the borough. The new trees - up to 100,000 in total over a three-year period - will play an important part in Enfield's plans to achieve "net zero carbon" by 2040 while providing a major new public utility. The project will also allow the council to progress its long-term scheme for a walking and cycling route across the entire width of the borough.

The name chosen -  Enfield Chase Restoration Project - reflects the fact that historically this part of the borough was largely wooded. 60 hectares or more of new native tree species will be planted on land which belongs to Enfield Council, but is mainly leased to tenant farmers.

enfield chase restoration project concept planA map showing planned new woodland areas recently posted to Facebook by deputy council leader Ian Barnes

The new woodland will help to combat the effects of climate change - and not just in Enfield, as the Earth's atmosphere has no respect for boundaries (even of countries which have "taken back control"). Trees absorb carbon dioxide and thus reduce the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 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 that it cannot eliminate. The trees will also play a part in natural flood management programme, helping retain water which would otherwise threaten to flood downstream. Retaining and increasing biodiversity is another important aspect of efforts to stave off climate catastrophe, and this too is built into the scheme - for instance, consideration is being given to the reintroduction of beavers.

In addition to the 100,000 trees to be planted, the council envisages creation of more woodland by natural regeneration - the total woodland created could be as much as 170 hectares.

Design principles

The woodland will be guided by a series of overarching design principles:

  • Woodland will be composed of mixed native species, predominantly broadleaf with some woody shrub, conifers and riparian species where appropriate. A core of productive species will provide long-term sustainability.
  • Species mix and layout will aim to look and feel natural – for example, by avoiding grid planting and softening edges with mixed species.
  • The open character of the Salmons Brook valley will be retained by incorporating natural flood management features like ponds and wetlands, and allocating some areas of natural regeneration.
  • The historic context of the area will be preserved and enhanced, with key views identified and protected.
  • Space for amenity features such as footpaths, glades and picnic areas will be incorporated.
  • Varying planting densities with lower concentrations of planting in the vicinity of footpaths, other amenity spaces and woodland edges.

The charity Thames21 has as its mission the improvement of water quality in the Thames and in its many tributaries that run through parts of the capital. Natural flood management programme manager Stephen Haywood, sums up a few of the benefits:

"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.”

enfield chase restoration larger mapThis more detailed map was part of a consultation document sent to stakeholders in February 2020 and may not fully reflect current plans

Woodland zones

In order for the proposals to meet the overall design principles the woodland will be split into four different characteristic zones:

  • Watercourse Zone – Providing a long-term sustainable woodland along the primary watercourses
  • Landscape Restructure Zone – Taking the opportunity for more effective catchment management whilst also supporting wider landscape re-structuring to strengthen long term resilience and ecological connectivity
  • London Loop Zone –Taking the opportunity to improve the user experience along the route of the London Loop path by enhancing its amenity and wildlife value and potential
  • Parkland Zone – Preserving the integrity of nearby Trent Park and taking the opportunity to extend habitats

These zones will be informed by existing topography, character, soil types, ecology and heritage and characterised by the planting density, open space provision, species mixes and management regime.

enfield island to hadley wood greenway openmap

One aspect of the scheme that the council haven't been publicising is that it incorporates the construction of a further stretch of the Enfield Island to Hadley Wood Greenway. The Greenway project involves creating a walking and cycling route running east-west across the entire borough by widening and resurfacing existing paths and removing obstacles. It is also suitable for baby buggies, mobility scooters and wheelchair users - though, given the topography in the north west of the borough, there are some pretty steep inclines, particularly between Crews Hill Church and the Ridgeway.

So far the eastern half of the route has been completed - between Enfield Island Village and the Ridgeway, a little to the north of Chase Farm hospital. Much of the route runs alongside the Turkey Brook and is also part of the London Loop long-distance footpath (the 150 mile long "M25 for walkers"). The Enfield Chase Restoration Project will extend the Greenway west along the London Loop route along a footpath that starts near the Royal Chace Hotel, and runs through farmland north of Hadley Road, for a large part of the way running alongside the Salmons Brook. The upgraded footpath then turns south, crosses Hadley Road and enters Trent Park, still following the London Loop route. The planned Greenway route, however, continues west to Stagg Hill and Hadley Wood.

It's not clear when this final, westernmost, section of the Greenway will be built, but when it is it will form part of National Cycle Route 12, which will eventually link Enfield Island with Spalding in Lincolnshire.

From rural farmland to country park?

The ambitious project to reforest and rewild Enfield Chase is an important part of Enfield Council's climate action plan. Green spaces, especially those with trees, truly are London's "lungs", and Enfield is fortunate in having such extensive areas of open land, especially when they are council-owned. However, the parts of the borough that could benefit most from greening are in the east, where smaller scale schemes could make for a less stressful environment and help reduce the urban heat island effect, which will become more pronounced as the climate continues to become warmer.

geograph 5568874 by Marathon

This part of the London Loop feels like being somewhere deep in rural farmland

The Greenway connecting the eastern part of the borough to its rural north west will make it easier for people to escape the heat island by jumping on a bike. The previously narrow and frequently muddy paths between Forty Hall and Hilly Fields Park have already been transformed and many more people now walk or ride along this part of the Greenway, the meandering Turkey Brook on one side and the rolling fields of Forty Hall Farm on the other.

Apart from the improved path and the increased footfall, the Greenway hasn't really changed the character of that stretch. But will this be the case for the next, Enfield Chase, section? Judging by the artist's impression above, the landscape will still be beautiful, but in a different way from now. There are many walkers who particularly like this section of the London Loop because, while almost on our doorstep, it's like being dropped into farmland deep in rural England - the photograph is a good example of what the path look like now. The visualisation looks more like part of a country park, which is a different thing altogether. That said, most of the land that the upgraded path will run through will still be farmed, so perhaps the changes won't be that radical - let's hope so.

Links

Thousands of new trees to give Enfield ‘green lungs’

Mayor secures new woodland areas to create more green space for London

Stakeholder engagement presentation - February 2020

Enfield Chase Restoration Project online event organised by Southgate District Civic Voice - 7.30pm on Tuesday 20 October 2020

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100,000 new trees and a new walking and cycling route
12 Oct 2020 16:18 #5637

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There's more information about this project in an article on the Enfield Dispatch website written by Stephen Haywood from Thames21:

enfielddispatch.co.uk/thrill-of-the-enfield-chase/ (good headline!)

Stephen suggests that there should be a Friends of Enfield Chase group.

Volunteers are required for the mass tree planting programme - click here for a list of dates .

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