30 March 2022

41 New Trees on the Horniman Triangle

By Stuart Checkley, Street Trees for Living

This winter 41 trees have been planted on the Horniman Triangle in an attempt to restore a tiny fragment of what used to be The Great North Wood.

Some of these trees, like 9 Common Hornbeam, will grow to a substantial height and age and will store tonnes of carbon. Others, such as the 9 Cockspur and 3 Rowan will provide berries for birds in autumn. Some will have spring blossom like 7 Wild Cherry, and others like 7 Hazel will hopefully produce nuts for wood mice. There will also be 20 Hawthorn saplings to repair the hedge around the playground and these with some holly trees will protect the playground from traffic pollution from the South Circular. The very damp area at the bottom of the hill, where two large Willows thrive, has been planted with two more waterside trees, one Alder and one Aspen. In the course of doing this we have identified an area of spontaneous oak regeneration above the playground − where 20 Oak saplings are growing well, and several are already several metres high − this area will now be protected.

Our native trees are threatened by imported diseases such as Oak Processionary Moth. By planting a wider range of tree species we are increasing the biodiversity of our tree population, and its ability to survive tree disease in the future. The trees will also strengthen a wildlife corridor which connects the nature reserves at Sydenham Woods and One Tree Hill. This corridor is used by migrating woodland birds such as Buzzard, Warblers, Red Kite, and in winter, Redwing. We hope that the new trees will bring back to Forest Hill both hedgehog and Tawny Owls − these can still be found in Sydenham Woods.

Fund raising continues but already more than £40,000 has been raised, mostly from a government grant from the Treescapes fund. But different groups of local residents have funded three trees together with a group of Lewisham council employees who raised funds as part of a leaving present for a colleague. Local groups have helped in other ways and I am most grateful to everyone for their support.

I will be leading a tree walk around the Triangle at 2pm on Saturday 14th May and this will be an opportunity to find out more about the project, and the forest that used to be here.

Street Trees for Living is a local charity which works with the Council to plant and care for trees on council property. It has planted 1364 trees in Lewisham and in 2020 it won the Woodland Trust Community Tree award for London in 2020.

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