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Greening Merton initiative looking for private open spaces to green

The Greening Merton Initiative is looking for privately-owned patches of land with the potential to be greened to increase biodiversity in the borough.

As part of the council’s Climate Action Group, the council-led initiative is looking for spaces that could benefit from tree or wildlife-friendly planting.

Greening Merton will be holding their first meeting at the end of March, so they are hoping to identify potential projects to work towards.

Greening Merton community lead Kelly Gunnell said: “Anything to do with planting, people get quite excited about and want to help with.

“Greening Merton is part of a number of initiatives still trying to gather people together and target one or two projects that we can take forward.

“Then it’s a matter of getting permission from owners, then getting the plants and volunteers.

“So it’s a bit of a long road, but the hardest part is getting the land and the permission.

“You can only plant trees in the winter-time between November and March so our window for this season is already closing.

“We also want to do something similar to what they did in Southfields with Green the Grid, but on a Merton wide scale where we have competition among streets.

“We want to get people greening their streets, planting street trees, greening their front gardens and window boxes, putting green roofs on sheds, that sort of thing.”

These projects are easier to achieve when communities convene to complete these projects but that has been limited for a while.

Gunnell said: “One of our problems has been the COVID restrictions, you can put together some plans to get everyone planting but lockdown slows all that down.

“We won’t be able to do a group planting event but we can set it up where you can plant as individuals.”

There are also lots of things that have to be considered when planting in public spaces that make these projects more complicated.

Gunnell said: “We have so many parks where there aren’t many trees and you ask why and it turns out theirs a million reasons why you can’t plant trees there.

“From sports fields, recreational things, utilities, powerlines, pipes, CCTV, it’s not simple.”

But there are so many ways people can do to make urban areas greener even in subtle ways.

Gunnell said: “There are so many things we can draw inspiration from, green infrastructure like bio-retentions strips that capture runoff water are so good for wildlife.”

Featured Image Credit: Jim Linwood

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