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Photograph: SUGi

A mini forest is being planted in the middle of Chelsea

It aims to restore biodiversity to the area and reconnect us to nature

Written by
Rhian Daly

London’s first ‘heritage’ forest is being planted in Chelsea in a bid to restore biodiversity to the area and reconnect people with nature. 

A 240-square-metre area on Pont Street will soon be home to 630 native trees and shrubs, made up of 77 different species. The project is being spearheaded by SUGi, which has already created ‘pocket forests’ on six continents and across the UK, estate manager and developer Cadogan and luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton. 

The new mini forest will be built on part of the 90 acres of land Cadogan owns in Chelsea and Knightsbridge, and is intended to become self-sustainable within three years, meaning maintenance and the use of artificial plant foods and pesticides will be unnecessary. 

The project will follow the methodology created by Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, which has been tried and tested on more than 3,000 sites and has a 97 percent success rate for tree survival. Miyawaki’s process involves giving forests four ‘layers’ – shrubs, sub-trees, trees and canopy – and will see at least three trees planted per square metre. 

Native plants will be chosen for the forest based on research into flora and fauna, a soil survey and a vegetation report. Some of the species you can expect to find in the Chelsea forest include Red Campion, Sessile Oak and Hawthorn. The forest floor will also be made into the ideal habitat for at least 80 species of insect. 

SUGi’s founder Elise van Middelem said of the project: ‘The forest will be a green space for local neighbours to find quiet moments of respite and to take in the joys of nature in a vibrant and busy city. Visitors can take in the changing colours of the trees, the aromas of the blossoms and the sound of rustling leaves. Thanks to its urban location, this forest will offer not only an individual experience but a communal one. We hope it becomes a recognised source of joy for all.’ 

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