Let's get a hedge for Figge's Marsh

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EXCITING OPPORTUNITY: Let’s get a hedge along London Road!

Members of the Friends of Figge’s Marsh have been looking to get a hedge planted along the busy London Road side for many years (before FoFM even existed!).  London Road is massively over-polluted, as various groups have identified through roadside testing of NO2 levels. Frequently traffic is at a standstill for large portions of the day. For more information on local pollution levels, please check out Clean Air Merton.

Furthermore, a hedge (with plenty of gaps to allow access for people, cars and service vehicles, and access to services below ground) would block off views of the busy road and make the park feel more like a pleasurable green space – more like a peaceful oasis.

The existing trees we have in the park are already a massive asset in terms of reducing wind speeds, providing shade and a screen for the traffic, carbon capture and other climate change related benefits, and providing a home for wildlife in the park. They are also beautiful!

However, it has been shown that vehicle pollution such as NO2 is more concentrated at lower levels, and therefore hedges are a more effective tool in combatting air pollution. It is important to note that many park users are particularly vulnerable to air pollution, as the park is well used by runners (who are working hard and therefore breathing in more bad air) and is also popular with families of young children, and children are closer to tailpipe height and therefore more likely to suffer the ill effects of air pollution. Even the low height benches put park users at greater risk. There is plenty of room along the grassy strip between London Road and the inner path, which would provide the necessary screen to keep park users better protected against dirty air.

Proposal:

To plant numerous blocks of informal and native and ornamental species as a hedgerow, which will have various benefits such as:

·        Absorbing and protecting against gaseous and particulate pollution

·        An attractive visual screen

·        A minor physical barrier, providing a bit of sound absorption and also handy for catching stray footballs (and even children!)

·        Increasing wildlife habitats and improving biodiversity

·        Trapping litter caught up by the wind and also reducing litter collection costs as much litter would likely be trapped in one strip along the hedge

 Support - several groups have already expressed their support for this plan:

·        Local friends groups

·        Tree Wardens

·        Sustainable Merton

·        Merton Public Heath in Community and Housing

·        And some ward councillors responded favourably to the initial idea, and they are formally being consulted alongside this public proposal

Actions already taken:

·        Consulting local groups and council departments (see above)

·        Fitting NO2 sensors along London Road and the internal path to show how air pollution is affected by vegetation

·        A preliminary planting plan has been drafted, allowing plenty of gaps for crossings, desire lines, benches, daffodils, and service access.

 Next steps:

·        Gather public and council support for the proposal – please sign our petition!

·        The Friends of Figge’s Marsh committee will fundraise through various charitable organisations to cover the cost of no more than £2,000 for the hedge plants and fencing to protect the growing hedge

·        Planting would be carried in two phases over two winters due to the length of the planting area, and we will be announcing opportunities for volunteers to help with planting in due course

·        Assistance will be provided by Merton Greenspaces’ Arboricultural Team, providing tools, expertise, mulch, and support with purchasing

·        After the hedge is established we will undertake a further round of air quality testing to demonstrate the improvement in air quality

·        A plant mix of various species is suggested to limit maintenance requirements to annual pruning after 3-4 years. The Friends group would undertake to do as much pruning as possible, under the advice of the Arboricultural Team and the Tree Wardens.

·        The hedge would be limited by the internal path along London Road and the grass verge so as to not impede maintenance of the grass along London Road

·        Height to be restricted to allow for easy ground level pruning

 Any questions, please message Friends of Figge’s Marsh on Facebook or email friendsoffiggesmarsh@gmail.com. Thanks for your interest.



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