Barbara Abraham, our Committee’s tree expert, writes:
We announced in last August’s Newsletter that the Belsize Society was hoping to participate in the tree planting initiative marking Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022 and plant some extra trees in public areas in Belsize. We drew up a shortlist of four possible locations and put the proposals to Camden tree department and to our three Belsize Councillors. Our Councillors are enthusiastic and supportive of the project and have suggested that we apply for Local CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) funding for the tree planting, and we have begun the application process.
In discussion with Councillors Steve Adams and Tom Simon, we have narrowed down the shortlist to a single location: the triangular-shaped island at the junction of Eton Avenue, Lancaster Grove, Lambolle Place and Eton Garages. This island currently has one medium-sized mature tree and a bench but its main use is as a dumping ground for Christmas trees once a year. BelSoc is proposing planting a cluster of native fruit trees (cherries, apples or pears) with a view to transforming this under-utilised site into a small green park – a mini-orchard. The existing mature tree and the bench would be retained, and an additional bench or two added. As well as providing a more environmentally attractive space, the grouping of trees would improve air quality in the vicinity and create a wildlife habitat.
We are excited about the project but it is at an early stage. Crucially, a survey needs to be carried out using detecting equipment to identify the presence of any underground infrastructure, such as pipes and cables, and determine if space is free to plant a tree. The successful locations are then marked and the second phase of the survey, involving trial excavations, can take place to ensure that the proposed locations for tree pits are in fact free of services and other obstructions. Until we know the results of the surveys we cannot be sure that the tree planting project is feasible – but we are optimistic!