National tree week at Elephant Park
National Tree Week 2021 is here. Here is everything we’re doing at Elephant Park to protect green spaces in our area.
- 01 December 2021
- Elephant Park
It’s that time of year again – National Tree Week. A celebration of all things green and growing. As part of our Lendlease sustainability commitments, we prioritise green spaces across our development at Elephant Park, all year round. But here’s a breakdown of everything we’re doing to make our local area greener, healthier, and more sustainable. Starting from the beginning of the project…
Retaining existing trees
In 2012, during the design process at Elephant Park, the community had made it clear that they wanted us to retain as many of the existing mature trees as possible.
We worked with a team of arboriculturists (tree farmers) to assess the size, health and species of every tree within Elephant Park, and using an industry-specific calculator, were able to attribute a score to the trees within the area. The aim is then to increase that score by planting new trees, not just to replace those that had to be removed for the construction process. By the time Elephant Park is complete, we’ll have planted over 1,300 semi-mature trees in and around the development or in the surrounding area – that’s 1,300 more trees in London!
Planting mature trees
By November of 2020, we had already worked with Hillier Nurseries to plant hundreds of mature and semi-mature trees (trees that have started producing its fruits or flowers) around Elephant & Castle, spanning 30 species, many of which are native to the UK. At the time of planting, some of the trees were as large as 8m tall and as wide as 40-45cm. The trees, which included species like London Plane, Liquidambar and Cherry, were grown from tiny buds at Hillier Nurseries. As you can imagine, the task to bring these giants into Central London was not small. We were aided by Caroline Swann, Hillier’s major projects coordinator, who said of the project:
“Trees are very important generally, but they’re especially important in cities, where 80 per cent of the UK’s population live. Trees definitely make cities a more attractive place to live, but they also improve air quality, as they help to clean pollution from the atmosphere and produce oxygen.
Urban areas are the hardest places in which to plant because they’re built up and land is at a premium, but it’s really one of the most important things you can do,” stresses Swann. “As a country, we should be planting more trees – and Elephant & Castle is leading the way.”
Reduce, reuse, recycle
With 50 trees being lost in major cities every day, we’re proud to be increasing the total number across London. On those occasions when we have had to remove trees, we have a plan for reusing the timber where possible, we’ve worked - with Goldfinch Furniture, an enterprise run by London Reclaimed, to make furniture from felled timber which is then being used at Elephant Park. An example of this can be found at West Grove.
And whilst it might not be directly related to National Tree Week, our meanwhile use concept Elephant Stores is a great example of reuse and recycling. A hub for local makers and activity space for the community, Elephant Stores will now be open for the next few years. Local business Fix Your Cycle, based within Elephant Stores, not only fix bikes, but also resell pre-loved ones. Not to mention that the whole store and café is fitted out with second-hand furniture from our furniture partner Vintage Matters. Many of the pieces of furniture you see inside Elephant Stores, is for sale. Enquire directly with Vintage Matters if something takes your fancy!
In Summer 2021 we launched the newest part of the park itself, an area sculpted from natural materials where the local community can sit back and enjoy nature. We call it Elephant Springs.
You’ll find it in the part of the park adjacent to Ash Avenue. The tree canopies provide shade to miniature sandy beaches adorned with hammocks; rain gardens absorb the rain and feed it back into the ground; and right at the heart water bubbles up from natural springs and flows through rock formations, as if they’ve sprung up from the ground. What better way to celebrate National Tree Week than to pay it a visit and immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty?
Find out all you need to know on our Elephant Springs page.
The root of it all…
The benefits of trees have, of course, been known for centuries but it’s fair to say they’ve become increasingly valued by Londoners in recent years.
Not only do trees provide a whole host of environmental benefits – from carbon capture and improving air quality to providing new habitats for wildlife – they also increase good feelings. Studies have found that “forest bathing” (being around trees) helps to reduce stress and anxiety. So, if you fancy a walk amongst the trees, check out our tree map on our Sustainability page!