Redbridge's first Tiny Forest planted in South Park

Tiny Forest South Park planting in Ilford

Paul Samuels from South Park User Group and nature conservation ranger Anna MacLaughlin helped plant more than 600 trees in South Park as part of the borough's first Tiny Forest. - Credit: Keith Kinghorn

Ilford's South Park is the home of the borough's first Tiny Forest, where more than 600 trees have been planted.

The project, which was due to the partnership between Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure (RCL), charity Earthwatch Europe and Redbridge Council, saw the planting of hundreds of more than 20 native tree species in the park on Thursday, March 18.

Vision RCL planting of Tiny Forest in South Park

The planting was originally planned as a celebratory community event but due to the current lockdown restrictions landscaping contractors had to install the Tiny Forest. - Credit: Keith Kinghorn

The Tiny Forest is funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, which helps kickstart environmental renewal projects, and aims to provide an oasis for wildlife and nature in the southern part of the borough.

The planting method used when creating a Tiny Forest encourages accelerated tree development without the use of chemicals or fertilisers.

tree planting in south park

The project was a partnership between Vision RCL, charity Earthwatch Europe and Redbridge Council working with the South Park User Group - Credit: Keith Kinghorn

Although the densely planted trees are packed into a space no bigger than the size of a tennis court, they will help to reduce flooding, increase biodiversity and improve air quality.

Louise Hartley, Tiny Forest programme manager at Earthwatch Europe, said it was vital to give people the knowledge and skills to protect our natural world and inspire them to take positive action.

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Chair of Vision RCL's board of trustees, Martin Solder, said: "Our parks are incredibly important to local people and we positively promote and support engagement with volunteers in the delivery of projects which promote the environment and sustainability."

Earthwatch will collect data and access the benefit of the South Park Tiny Forest over time

Earthwatch will collect data and access the benefit of the South Park Tiny Forest over time. - Credit: Keith Kinghorn

Vision RCL's nature conservation team will be working alongside Earthwatch and residents association South Park User Group to monitor the development of the site.

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Earthwatch will also collect data to monitor carbon absorption, flood mitigation, thermal comfort and biodiversity. 

The Tiny Forest will also be used as an educational resource, connecting pupils and teachers in schools with their surrounding green spaces.

Tiny Forest South Park

The Tiny Forest was planted in a way which encourages accelerated tree development without the use of chemicals or fertilisers. - Credit: Keith Kinghorn

Earthwatch's education team will deliver immersive workshops to allow children to learn first-hand about nature and the environment.

It will also provide training and resources so teachers can feel confident educating in outdoor settings, breaking down the barriers of typical classroom-based learning.

Council leader Jas Athwal said he was proud of the work that has been done, which will be enjoyed for generations to come.

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