An area slightly larger than two standard football pitches (around 16100m2 or four acres) in the western part of the park, close to Ham Cross plantation and adjacent to the Tamsin Trail, will be transformed into a tranquil woodland for visitors to enjoy.
Initially it will be planted with climate resilient tree species, including oak, Dutch Elm-resistant elm, small-leaved lime and sweet chestnut. The 70 trees will be planted around a focal point which is likely to incorporate a seating area, for rest and reflection.
In this central area, the larger canopy trees will be complemented by smaller trees such as hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, elder and dogwood.
£100K is being invested into the woodland creation funded jointly by The Royal Parks and with generous support from The Friends of Richmond Park, and People’s Postcode Lottery through ‘Help Nature Thrive’.
The woodland will not only provide an area of respite for visitors but will provide new habitat to support and sustain a wide variety of wildlife – including the endangered white-letter hairstreak butterfly and the cardinal click beetle – both being found on just a few sites across the UK, which include Richmond Park. The shrubs will provide shelter and a food source for small mammals and invertebrates.
The Royal Parks will begin planting the woodland in late autumn to winter 2022, whilst most trees are dormant, being the optimum time for tree planting. Community activities to celebrate the new woodland are planned for this time. The woodland creation will take place alongside planting by individuals and groups, for The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, in towns and cities across the United Kingdom - which will also continue in October.
Simon Richards, Park Manger, Richmond Park, said: “This new woodland will mark 70 years of Her Majesty The Queen’s reign by providing a welcoming community space for rest and relaxation, we hope that will inspire discovery and enjoyment of the natural environment for generations to come.
“Climate change is the in forefront of our minds and by selecting climate-resilient trees and shrubs that will also support an increasing biodiversity we hope this woodland will enhance and help protect this important National Nature Reserve, which provides vital green space on the edge of the capital, for millions of visitors each year.”
Roger Hillyer, Chair of the Friends of Richmond Park, said: “We're delighted to be supporting this exciting initiative for Richmond Park which celebrates Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
“The Queen's fondness for trees means this woodland will be a fitting legacy in her honour.
“The new woodland chimes with the Friends’ aim of promoting the conservation, protection and improvement of the Park's natural environment.”
The woodland will be fenced to protect trees from browsing deer. However, it will be free to access via gates and open to the public whenever the park is open.
In addition to the new woodland in Richmond Park, a unique new garden will be created in The Regent’s Park– transforming the site of a former plant nursery, previously not accessible to the public, into 1.5 acres of new green space available to be enjoyed by visitors.