Hundreds of trees planted in new Highgate project

The Dream For Trees team at the socially distanced planting

The Dream For Trees team at the socially distanced planting - Credit: Edmund Dabney

A group of Highgate dads have worked with Thames Water to plant hundreds of trees on a patch of land in the heart of the village. 

Ben Cooper QC is one of those to have set up Dream For Trees, which has seen around 1,200 trees planted by Highgate's covered reservoir.

He said the project between The Grove and Highgate West Hill has been well supported and is intended to be the first of several around London. 

"Even small woodlands in the city can help restore a balance from the impersonal domination of cars," he said. 

"The Highgate site we chose to plant is next to lots of schools and the roads are congested with some of the heaviest polluting family cars.

"The project has had a positive social impact by helping re-establish a sense of community and drawing neighbours together at a difficult time."

The Dream For Trees project in Highgate

The Dream For Trees project in Highgate - Credit: André Langlois

The plans, created by a local landscape gardener, use the "Miyawaki" method to create a mini-forest and Ben said: "It has the advantage of capturing six times more carbon per square metre and spurring a rapid growth of the trees and all the virtues they bring by a dense planting technique."

Highgate councillor and Green Party leader Sian Berry said: "It's really impressive. Looking at what they're actually doing, it's a really positive thing, and I don't think people have anything to worry about. It will be a really lovely thing to see."

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Michael Hammerson, vice-president of the Highgate Society, said he has some concerns about the impact of the planting on the area, and added: "In 2019, we were able to speak with the Thames Water ecologist. What we wanted to do was develop it as a meadow with trees around it. We thought we had agreed that." 

He said the society had been unable to reach Thames Water during 2020 and felt that it had been ignored locally. 

A Thames Water spokesperson said: "On this particular project we’re working in partnership with a local charity called 'Dream For Trees' who used a professional local landscaper designer, and share our passion for increasing biodiversity, reducing pollution and capturing carbon."

They said the project will improve biodiversity and provide habitats for wildlife, adding that while any upset at the scheme was "disappointing", it had support from the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum and Camden Council.