Scores of Thamesmead residents came together to plant South London’s first ever Tiny Forest in Southmere Park on Saturday 19 February, thanks to a partnership between Peabody, environmental charity Earthwatch Europe – who are pioneering Tiny Forest in the UK – the Greater London Authority, CLEVER Cities and BlackRock.
The Tiny Forest initiative encourage residents to get out and about, attracts new plants and wildlife to the neighbourhood, and helps respond to the climate crisis. Made up of 600 trees, of 18 species, and planted without chemicals or fertilisers in a 200m2 plot, the woodland will be a rich source of biodiversity, capable of attracting over 500 animal and plant species within the first three years of being planted. Planted in a semi-circle, it will allow for a mini outdoor classroom and seating area that, once established, can be used by the wider community, school children and visitors to the area.
There is a growing evidence base on the benefits of trees for improved mental and physical health. All those attending the planting event had the chance to get their hands dirty and have fun, with all 600 trees going into the ground on the day. A team of local Tiny Forest Tree Keeper volunteers who will be trained to act as the forest ambassadors, supporting with maintenance of the site, were among those taking part.
Planted in a semi-circle, allows for a mini outdoor classroom and seating area that overlooks Southmere Lake. Once established, it will be used by the wider community, school children and visitors to the area.
Thamesmead residents enjoy double the amount of green space than the average Londoner. The neighbourhood – which is undergoing long-term regeneration by Peabody – has 240 hectares of parks and green space, 7km of canals, five lakes, 5km of river frontage. Making the most of Thamesmead’s beautiful natural spaces, improve the quality of the parks and waterways is a core part of Peabody’s regeneration programme.
The Tiny Forest programme is part of Thamesmead’s wider Making Space for Nature programme. This involves organising activities for people to get involved with nature and the landscape, including gardening sessions, foraging, habitat building, walks and talks, sports activities, nature trails and sharing gardening kits. In addition, Thamesmead has an active Nature Forum which meets each month.
Kate Batchelor, Head of Landscape and Placemaking for Thamesmead at Peabody, said: “Thamesmead has a remarkable landscape which everyone can enjoy. The Tiny Forest has been another way for us to encourage residents to get out and about in the area, attract new plants and wildlife to the neighbourhood, and respond to the climate crisis. We expect the woodland to be of real interest across the community, and look forward to welcoming them to it.”
Louise Hartley, Tiny Forest Programme Manager at Earthwatch Europe, said: “Tiny Forest provides rich opportunities for connecting young and old alike with the environment and sustainability. It’s vital that we give people the knowledge and skills to protect our natural world and inspire them to take positive action. We are delighted to be working with Peabody, the Greater London Authority, CLEVER Cities and BlackRock to bring this inspiring space to Thamesmead.”