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Talking trees in Tower Hamlets

last modified  19/02/2009 08:15 AM

Talking trees in Tower Hamlets


Tower Hamlets residents can catch a glimpse of a greener future on Saturday morning (21st February) thanks to a talk by an international ecologist on why the borough’s ancient trees matter – and how green space can enrich inner city lives.

The ‘Keeping Woodland Alive’ talk, by ecologist Joe Nunez-Mino at the Island Gardens Neighbourhood Centre, has been organised through tree conservation charity the Woodland Trust and is the brainchild of Paul Wilson, a housing manager with Tower Hamlets’ social housing provider Eastend Homes.

His vision for Tower Hamlets, with its high incidence of child asthma and social deprivation, is unashamedly one where trees and green space figure largely, and there are plans to start a residents’ environmental group this year.

“There is a lot of negativity surrounding mature trees, from pigeons roosting and fouling cars to threats to fell fine street trees because they have been implicated, often wrongly, in subsidence cases,” said Paul, who has circulated details of the talk to nearly 1,000 residents with an open invitation to allcomers.

“We need to balance that by spreading awareness of the health and social benefits of trees.”

“So many people have little idea of what trees can do to enrich our lives that I wanted to try and enthuse local people,” said Paul. “We have some wonderful London plane trees, for example, which need protecting for the future.”

“We also have areas where we can get local kids planting trees and shrubs, even wild flowers, and there is a brilliant example at Tower Hamlets cemetery of community involvement with and benefits from wildlife and nature areas.”

The Woodland Trust, the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity, lobbied for a greater awareness of the benefits of trees in a Manifesto produced for last year’s London Mayoral elections – outlining their benefits to health, their ability to soak up carbon and their cooling effect on the city. See web link:

Joe’s talk will explore whether urban trees are an asset or a liability, look at ancient trees in London and encourage an overall understanding of the value of trees and woodland

“There is any amount of evidence to show that contact with trees and green spaces is good for people, not only for health but also a sense of well-being,” he said.

“Contact with trees and wildlife instills respect in youngsters and it’s really important for people in an area like Tower Hamlets to think they can do something practical to make the borough a greener and healthier place to live.”

Speaking for the Woodland Trust, Diane Millis added: “This is such a timely event. Thankfully, the value of London’s trees and woods is increasingly being recognised. Only last week the first of the Mayor’s 10,000 new street trees for London were planted – and the Woodland Trust is convinced that it can play a growing role in urban areas.

“We know that trees and woodland can make a huge contribution to London’s ability to withstand the effects of climate change, for example. They help prevent flooding and significantly reduce the temperature in city centres.

“London is fortunate to have so many wonderful trees and woodlands both in the capital and on the doorstep. It is home to some of the oldest trees in Europe and an estimated 20% of London’s land area is under the canopy of individual trees. This resource needs protecting, first and foremost, but planting more of them will also ensure all Londoners can enjoy the many health and social benefits that trees deliver.

”The Trust is absolutely committed to seeing this happen in London, as elsewhere in the country and is pleased to see a social housing organisation contributing to this effort,” she added.

Event details:
‘Keeping Woodland Alive’
11am - Saturday 21st February 2009
Island Gardens
Neighbourhood Centre
137 Manchester Road
London E14 3DN
Paul Wilson: 020 7538 2340

Editors Note:

For media enquiries contact:
The Woodland Trust Press Office on 01476 581121,

The Woodland Trust:The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity. It has 300,000 members and supporters. The Trust has four key aims: i) No further loss of ancient woodland; ii) Restoring and improving the biodiversity of woods; iii) Increasing new native woodland; iv) Increasing people’s understanding and enjoyment of woodland. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free. Further news via