Rare and threatened tree species given new lease of life

Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2022

A special conservation project in King George’s Park has just been completed giving a rare and threatened species of tree a new lease of life.

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Black Poplars being planted along the banks of the River Wandle

The council’s leisure and culture contractor Enable has planted 20 rare Black Poplars along the banks of the River Wandle as it winds its way through the park. Nine are male and 11 female ensuring a growth in future numbers.

The Black Poplar is Britain’s rarest native tree with only around 7,000 individual trees still alive today.

These poplars were cloned from an existing group established along the Thames riverside in Barnes, one of the few natural populations left in the UK - as part of a collaboration between Wandsworth and Richmond Councils, Enable, the Richmond Biodiversity Partnership and Barnes Common Limited, formerly known as the Friends of Barnes Common, and its Black Poplar Project.

The planting coincided with the start of Wandsworth Council’s annual tree planting exercise which will see around 700 trees planted this winter.

Hundreds of new street trees will be planted to support bio-diversity and to bring life and colour to residential neighbourhoods. Others will be planted in parks and on housing estates.

Wandsworth’s cabinet member for environment Cllr Judi Gasser said: “We will be planting around 700 new trees this winter as part of our annual programme. These will be welcome additions to many residential streets and housing estates and will support our efforts to deliver cleaner air in Wandsworth.

“I’m particularly pleased that the Black Poplar project in King Georges Park will help conserve and safeguard an historic but fast vanishing species of tree, helping to give these rare and threatened trees a firm foothold in our borough.”

Other species to be planted this winter include London plane, cherry, lime, pear, crab apple, rowan, oak, hazel, whitebeam, maple, hornbeam and birch.

The council and Enable look after more than 60,000 trees in parks, commons and open spaces. Around 16,000 already grow in streets and on housing estates, plus many more growing in private gardens.

The Wandsworth Tree Policy emphasises the importance of putting the right trees in the right place to ensure their long-term survival and to preserve the borough’s biodiversity.

Black Poplars can live for 200 years