What is the aim of the Chester Supertrees?
Aim 1. Return wildlife and biodiversity to a neglected urban space
Aim 2. Become a symbol that provokes thought, conversation, education and action towards the improvement of biodiversity and understanding of nature at a local level
Aim 3. Demonstrate what is possible through community-led development; the local authority working in partnership with local people to create a space for all life
Why not just plant real trees?
We are planting real trees as part of the biodiversity relandscaping across the site. We hope the magnificent recycled steel structures will become an awe-inspiring beacon for transformation in the city of Chester. Educational interpretation and learning spaces around the site, supported by the visual impact of the SuperTrees, will educate visitors about the ecological crisis, and inspire them to make their own spaces biodiversity friendly.
Ted x talk link:
Why did you remove trees from the current sunken garden?
Some over-mature trees were removed from the site in order plant shrubs, flowers and trees that promote biodiversity more effectively. Even the trees that were taken down are now being used to build insect friendly log-pile habitats amongst the flowers in the space.
How did this all begin?
It began with a man with one idea. Steve Hughes began raising money for what would become the Chester Supertrees. He ran 7 marathons in 7 days in 7 countries, just so people would take his idea seriously. People listened!
Then Steve approached Good For Nothing Chester (GFN) who quickly recognised the importance of this project. 27 GFN members gave their time, expertise and energy to realise Steve’s initial vision. This input equated to over £12,000 of donated professional time. Local interest and support began to grow. From this the ForEST (For Eco Supertrees) group was formed.
What is / what could be environmental impact of the installation?
Environmental change can only come from a massive behaviour change and an increase in awareness of the issues facing our planet. This is what the project seeks to inspire. This education, discussion and behaviour change is where the major environmental impact will happen.
We are aware that any new construction has its own environmental impact however and with this in mind throughout the project we have sought to minimise the carbon footprint for example through the use of recycled steel and through the use of local fabricators to reduce transport requirements. We are also investing in solar energy as part of Chester Community Energy Project.
How was this funded?
Chester Zoo is the project’s official partner and is contributing towards the ongoing maintenance of the site. This project was largely funded through successful grant applications, sponsorship and generous donations. Including WREN, Section 106 and the New Homes Bonus. The ForEST group gives their expertise freely which has driven the project forward including successful collaborative applications with the local authority to access funds that they would not have acces to. As well as private sponsors without whom this project would not have happened.
What’s happened at the site so far?
- Walls have been lowered to increase visibility.
- A new ramped area has been created to provide easy access to the raised seating area.
- Additional York stone paving has been installed in areas of the site.
- The flower beds have been lowered to increase visibility.
- Wildflower seeds have been sown and successfully established.
Will the trees be lit up at night?
Yes, absolutely. Now that the trees are installed the planning of the lighting can begin.
The walkway areas of the garden will be lit in the same way they always have been, with the lighting column situated on the central raised area. We are currently exploring options for lighting the Supertrees. We’ll keep you updated on these proposals as they progress.
What happens next?
Although we are SUPER excited that the trees have been installed, this is just the beginning. The aim is to create a colourful perennial meadow within the space. This will attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. It will provide a relaxing beautiful space for people to enjoy nature and improve their wellbeing. It will also become an educational space for school visits, with interpretation boards and learning activities.
A perennial seed mix has already been sown in some of the planting beds and further areas of planting can be established now that the construction phase has been completed. The meadow will develop and improve over time – if you are a keen gardener or have an enthusiasm for nature conservation and would like to assist follow us on social media where we’ll be posting updates and forthcoming events
- Benches – five benches will be installed on the raised area accessible via the new ramped access and steps.
- Resurfaced pathways – pathway enhancements will aid access and increase the visual appeal of the garden.
- Interpretation boards – six interpretation boards will be installed on site helping visitors to understand the environmental impact of the scheme.
- Murals – colourful art on the themes of water, air and earth is planned for the subways.
- Wood carving sculpture – a number of the tree stumps will be carved on site.
- Bin – a bin for waste will be installed on site.
WHY IS BIODIVERSITY
In the 1970’s the World Wildlife Fund for the first time, started taking some accurate statistics on the number of vertebrate species we have on earth. Back then, this was estimated to be around 2.3 million. The same surveys were repeated again in 2016, measuring the number of species at approximately 1.3 million. Our earth has developed a plethora of species since the Cambrian Explosion and the idea that human expansion has wiped out half of all vertebrate species in 40 years is truly devastating.
By making Biodiversity a priority and focusing our efforts on retaining and creating more green spaces within our Cities, we are capable of slowing down the decline. By taking control and making our Cities greener, we are capable of creating a richer environment for ourselves and any animals and insects that share the space with us.