London Mayor plants first trees in new Leyton park woodland

The first of 3,000 trees, which will form a new urban woodland in an east London park, were planted by London Mayor Sadiq Khan last week.

Chris Robbins (left back) and Sadiq Khan with pupils from St Josephs RC Infants School and Willow Brook Primary School Academy
Chris Robbins (left back) and Sadiq Khan with pupils from St Josephs RC Infants School and Willow Brook Primary School Academy

Khan was joined in Leyton Jubilee Park by the leader of London Borough of Waltham Forest, councillor Chris Robbins, and school children, to plant three multi stemmed Silver Birch, Betula Pendula as feature trees, on 1st November, in the latest phase of park improvements now in their fourth year.

The rest of the trees will go in as whips, sponsored by a partnership between The Conservation Volunteers and energy company OVO, under the I Dig Trees programme. TCV volunteers will also be involved in planting trees and shrubs in what will become known as Jubilee Wood.

Parks consultant Peter Wilkinson of The Next Field, is project manager and has been working with landscape architect firm Kinnear Landscape Architects developing and delivering an improvement and management planning process with the aim of park being entered into the Green Flag Awards for the first time next year. Only HLF-funded Lloyd Park in Walthamstow has Green Flag status this year, its third year to get the award.

He said a mixture of meadows and woodland had been chosen as the best option for the land, which had been used as an old landfill site for east London industry and post-war demolition waste, and is contaminated by traces of heavy metals.

"When the waste was dumped it was wholly unregulated. Our first job was to remediate contamination levels that exceeded standards for public open space," he told Horticulture Week.

"Now the remediation is completed, we are planting pioneer species that do well in these sorts of sites, willow, alder and birch. We are planting lots of small trees very close together based forestry guidance for difficult sites. Most will make it and some won’t but whips have the best chance of establishing in this rather difficult soil.

"You also establish a woodland feel much more quickly by planting smaller stock. If you’ve got lots of trees and quite a good percentage of shrub species, such as dog wood, hazel and dog rose, there will also be biodiversity benefits. There will be a great deal of autumn food for birds and the autumn colour impact over time will be better than planting large standard trees, which would not survive anyway."

The woodland will also improve the soil over time, with the build-up of leaf fall. Bluebells have also been planted between the park and nearby Orient Way highway.

The park, renamed to honour the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, is close to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford and is the largest green space run by the local authority covering 12 hectares. It was one of the areas the council spent its Olympics money on, gained from turning over some of its green space temporarily to the games. The first phase started soon after the Olympics, with an outdoor gym, natural play equipment, play areas, football pitches, basketball court and pavilion added, alongside a popular play pirate ship.

Wilkinson is also working on a new outdoor sports and park extension on former agricultural land, Ive Farm, currently in the planning process. Work is due to start next year if it is given planning approval, which "will make a massive change" Wilkinson said.

"We’re also developing a management plan which will deal with how those landscapes integrate. Dagenham brook has still got quite a few problems with pollution and invasive weeds. Japanese Knotweed is a major problem, for example, which is going to be dealt with over the next three or years."

The council is holding two community planting days during National Tree Week on 30 November and 3 December.



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