‘Green shoots’ as Covid-19 mortuary site returns to nature


A temporary mortuary at an east London beauty spot at the height of the coronavirus pandemic has been removed and will give way to a new wildflower habitat.

Since being opened in April, the facility at Wanstead Flats, one of six temporary mortuaries set up across London, has accommodated the bodies of people who died from the virus.

As the Covid-19 death rate has fallen and stabilised, it has now been dismantled and the City of London Corporation, which owns the land, has begun the process of returning it to nature.

The four-acre site, forming the southernmost boundary of Epping Forest, will be reseeded with native species, temporarily fenced off to protect the young plants and is expected to reopen to the public next summer.

The City Corporation protects and conserves 11,000 acres of green space in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath – and over 200 smaller sites in the Square Mile.news london

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Graeme Doshi-Smith, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest & Commons Committee, said: “While coronavirus is likely to still be with us for a long time and we mustn’t be complacent, the removal of the mortuary is a welcome sign of the green shoots of normal life beginning to return to our open spaces.

“In the weeks to come, our teams will be preparing the soil before sowing the land with a wildflower seed mix, including seeds collected from nearby areas of the forest.

“When it has grown, the grassland will provide a rich habitat for visitors and wildlife to enjoy, and will mark out a lasting, natural reminder of those who lost their lives to coronavirus.”

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