£700,000 GRANT TO HELP HISTORIC GREAT NORTH WOOD (Teddy bear picnics welcome)
As part of the Living Landscapes initiative, the London Wildlife Trust has been awarded a grant of nearly £700,000 from Heritage Lottery Fund to revive the Great North Wood.
Throughout the Middle Ages, across a large swathe of south London, an ancient wooded landscape provided timber, charcoal and firewood for the capital, and a home to wildlife and nature.
The Great North Wood once covered the high ground between Deptford and Selhurst, and while much has been lost to urban development over the last century or so, echoes of the Wood still exist as a series of small woodlands, parks, cemeteries, sports grounds, railway embankments, and even back gardens.
Although these sites no longer form one continuous natural habitat as they once did, all of them still provide a home for London’s wildlife.
The Great North Wood now falls under the ownership and control of many different landowners and managers, and is subject to a variety of modern pressures such as overuse, fly-tipping and inconsistent management, but the Trust is determined to ensure that this special Living Landscape* is recognised and valued, before it is lost forever.
Over four years the Trust will work with volunteers, community groups, landowners, and local councils, in a collaborative project reviving and re-imagining the Great North Wood as a home for nature and people in a modern urban landscape.
It will raise awareness of this largely forgotten woodland, encouraging people to explore, enjoy and value the natural wealth on their doorsteps.
With strong community involvement, it will focus on resident woodland species such as woodpeckers, purple hairstreak butterflies, stag beetles, oak and hornbeam trees; with surveying, guided walks, and family activities such as minibeast hunts and teddy bear picnics.
Conservation work will also enhance ancient woodland areas and help people discover them.
This project is only possible thanks to support from National Lottery players through a £699,000 grant from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with further support from the Mayor of London, Veolia Environmental Trust, the Dulwich Estate, and Dulwich Society.
London Wildlife Trust will be working closely with borough councils in Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham, and Southwark, throughout its duration.
Significant remnants of the Great North Wood can be found and enjoyed at woodland sites such as Dulwich Wood, Sydenham Hill Wood, One Tree Hill, Streatham Common, Biggin Wood and Grangewood Park.
Cllr Timothy Godfrey, Croydon’s cabinet member for culture, leisure, and sport, said: “The award to such a wonderful organisation as LWT is fantastic news. “I’ve always lived in South Norwood and represent Selhurst on the council, so it’s extra special to celebrate the ancient heritage of our borough and wider area.
“The Great North Wood was central to the growth of London as the nation’s capital. Protecting and enhancing what remains of it is essential for future residents. “Croydon will be offering whatever support we can to the project.”
Anyone who’d like to help with the Great North Wood project can email Sam on [email protected] or visit the Great North Wood website. (Sources: Press release by London Wildlife Trust from Lambeth council’s Love Lambeth website; Croydon council press release)
What is the Great North Wood?
The Great North Wood once stretched between Deptford, Streatham and Selhurst; an extensive landscape of managed woodlands that provided timber, charcoal and firewood for London, interspersed with common land grazed by livestock. The Wood was divided and largely sold off in the late 18th and 19th centuries.Large fragments of the old wood can still be seen at over 20 sites in south London, most notably at Dulwich & Sydenham Hill Woods, where visitors can spot woodpeckers, wild spring flowers and curious fungi. The Trust believes the Great North Wood has the potential to come alive again, bringing nature back into the capital and enriching the lives of Londoners.
As Great North Wood project development officer Sam Bentley-Toon explained: “Access to nature is really good for us; research has shown measurable benefits to our health and wellbeing. We want to raise people’s awareness of this largely forgotten woodland on their doorsteps, and encourage them to get outside to explore, enjoy and value London’s nature.”
Read more about the Great North Wood project on the London Wildlife Trust website. Contact Sam on [email protected] for more details.
Further reading: Discover the Great North Wood – south London’s forgotten landscape Written by: London Wildlife Trust 17 February, 2016 Love Lambeth website.