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Deforestation is happening now in inner London. Sadiq Khan please meet with us – it’s urgent!

28th July 2016    |    [email protected]    |    @southwarkwoods    |    Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods


28th July 2016


Dear Mayor Khan,


We really need your help. Please will you or your advisors meet with us urgently?


You have promised to tackle London’s terrible air pollution, plant two million trees and help make London a National Park City, which is brilliant.


But deforestation is happening in inner London right now: acres of woods are being cut down, for the sake of inner city burial plots.


London’s woods and trees absorb a huge amount of air pollution (VOCs, CO, NOx, SOx and particulates as well as CO2).


But a change in the law means all old graves in London’s cemeteries could be mounded over or dug up for resale, with many acres of woods and trees 'in the way' cut down.


Southwark Council has already cut down TWO ACRES OF WOODS at Camberwell Old Cemetery to get at the old graves beneath their roots. TEN MORE ACRES OF SINC WOODS are to go.


These beautiful woods are havens for bats, owls and a myriad of woodland plants and animals and were included in last year’s £6.1Bn valuation of London’s Urban Forest.


Flooding, overheating and air pollution do not obey borough boundaries.


This is a London-wide issue, not a borough problem. The new laws apply to the whole of London - Southwark is just the test case.


All London’s cemeteries – their woods, graves, nature, history and future – are at risk.


Inner city burial for a small percentage of people cannot justify destroying woods that give London vital clean air, climate resilience, health and wellbeing.


Solutions for everyone's needs are available. Please will you or your advisors meet us to discuss this urgently?


Best regards,

Blanche Cameron

Chair, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries

The Save Southwark Woods Campaign


Before and after at Camberwell Old Cemetery, inner London: Two acres of Grade 1 SINC woods cut down in February by Southwark Council - TEN MORE ACRES to go.


In a nutshell: Trees, woods and green spaces too valuable to be used for burial plots - we need more not less, for health and well-being and climate change adaptation; Burial over the dead not an option for many - and discriminates against many residents' burial needs. Plot buyers are not being told; the history and heritage of those buried and their families must be respected and preserved; fair burial provision is already available at a fraction of the environmental, financial and social cost.


Save our woods and graves and make them Memorial Park Nature Reserves, with respect for the dead and woods and trees for the living.

Deforestation is happening now in inner London.


Today, the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, the Save Southwark Woods campaign, have written to the Mayor of London asking him to meet with them urgently.


The hundreds of acres of woods and tens of thousands of graves in all London's cemeteries are under threat.


The Mayor is consulting on plans to clean up London’s poisonous air pollution, largely by tackling vehicles emissions.


But London’s woods and trees are also vital for clean air - absorbing dangerous VOCs, CO, NO2, SO2 and particulates as well as CO2).


Campaigners want to alert the Mayor to acres of deforestation happening now in London’s cemeteries, for Councils to sell as ‘new’ inner city burial plots.


London’s old burial grounds are some of the city’s most biodiverse, beautiful and contemplative places – havens for people and nature. Most are full, often with acres of woods and trees growing around the old graves. Think beautiful Highgate or Nunhead Cemeteries.


But a new law means London Boroughs could get permission to remove gravestones and memorials to dig up the old graves for ‘new’ burial plots. Acres of woods and trees are ‘in the way’.


The euphemistically named ‘re-use’ of graves destroys social history, is hugely unpopular with families and communities, and threatens tens perhaps hundreds of acres of inner city woods.


Against huge public opposition, Southwark Council are the test case, clearing 12 acres of SINC woods at Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries to put ‘new’ graves over thousands of paupers’ graves beneath their roots. Two acres of SINC woods have already been felled.


Southwark also intend to dig up all private graves. All for the sake of inner city burial.


The Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries are fighting to preserve not only their woods and graves but the history and future of all London cemeteries.


“Inner city burial for a small proportion of the population,” said Blanche Cameron, Chair of the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, “cannot possibly justify destroying hundreds of acres of woods and trees and the history and tens of thousands of Londoners’ graves and gravestones.”


“Burial over the dead is not suitable for many Londoners. Burial suitable for all is available right now in cemeteries on the edge of the city, just like the Victorians did. Our woods, graves, history and nature are invaluable in hot, dry, polluted London.”


The Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries are asking Mayor Khan to meet urgently, to protect the nature and history of London’ cemeteries. They are asking their supporters to write to him too.


Their letter to the Mayor of London is below.