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Over 1,000 residents have this weekend demanded Southwark pay attention to their views and save the beautiful Southwark Woods – for local and London wide benefit.
The woods of Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries in the south of the borough are under threat. The council plan to fell dozens of mature trees, clear woodland and build 6,000 burial plots packed cheek by jowl into a sterile landscape.
Residents say nature should not be a luxury of the rich. These woodlands are without doubt ‘places which delight the senses’, but they bring other benefits too.
In one of the poorest and most polluted boroughs in London, mature woodlands are the first line of defence against poor health, poor air quality local flooding and an overheated city.
Mayor Boris Johnson’s iTree survey is currently in full swing across all of London, assessing trees and woodland for the economic contribution they make to air quality, climate change adaptation, business, citizen health and a whole range of other benefits.
The iTree survey is due for publication soon. Could this be why Southwark are so keen to push through to planning? Southwark residents say they can skip Southwark – chances are there won’t be any trees left.
A survey of woodland in Islington’s Highbury Fields in 2008 valued the contribution of its 578 trees at a staggering £44,960,886 – that’s £77,787 per tree. Southwark plan to fell dozens of mature trees and replace with saplings that will take many years to replace the benefits now provided. Poor financial management by Southwark?
As boroughs across London seek alternatives to destroying green space for burial in the inner city, there is a far better alternative for Southwark: to create a 100 Acre Wood – a green corridor in Zone 2, stretching from Camberwell Old Cemetery, across One Tree Hill Nature Reserve and Camberwell New Cemetery, and over to Nunhead Cemetery Nature Reserve.
A legacy to the future which will continue to give annual economic benefits, and a host of others, for generations to come.
Councils are not designed to initiate big ideas. To preserve green spaces, boroughs are arranging burial provision outside the inner zones. As Londoners begin to recognise the full value of nature, the 100 Acre Wood is an idea whose time has come.
Residents will not stand by and let these woodlands in all their beauty be sold off for sanitised landscapes, tarmac roads and 6,000 lucrative burial plots.
These woodlands are not just good for nature, they are good for local people and for London as a whole. And residents feel sure that Boris will agree.
Camberwell Old Cemetery woods by Save Southwark Woods
London i-Tree survey? Don’t bother say Southwark residents
23rd February 2015