MAJOR FUNDRAISING BID TO HELP REMAINING PARTS OF THE GREAT NORTH WOOD
London Wildlife Trust are launching a Heritage Lottery bid to help keep the last remnants of the Great North Wood.
They are looking to enlist local people in efforts to manage woodland for wildlife as part of their plans.
Great North Wood
Stretching from Deptford in the north to Croydon in the south, the Great North Wood was a vast tract of woodland and wooded commons. It supplied London with a ready supply of charcoal, timber and tannin-rich oak bark used in the leather tanning industry. The wood was largely managed through coppicing, an ancient sustainable way of harvesting wood, which allowed it to thrive for centuries. As the industrial revolution transformed traditional woodland industries the value of woodland lessened, paving the way for destruction and urbanisation.
Today the Great North Wood lives on in isolated fragments of woodland scattered across its original footprint. Key sites include Sydenham Hill Wood, Dulwich Woods, One Tree Hill, Beaulieu Heights and Long Lane Wood. The ancient character of these woods is revealed by the presence of plants such as wood anemone, bluebell and Solomon’s seal. Known as ancient woodland indicator species these plants are sluggish to colonise and spread through woodland and provide evidence that an area has been continuously wooded for centuries.
The Great North Wood continues to support a rich fauna with insects such as the fearsome-looking stag beetle which spends up to seven years burrowing through deadwood as a larva before emerging as a splendid antlered adult. The great spotted woodpecker whose distinctive drumming can be heard ringing out through woodland in spring is another successful inhabitant of the Great North Wood.
Unfortunately lack of management in some of these woodlands has led to critical threats to wildlife and to their continued existence. Amongst these threats is erosion. Trampling feet can quickly wipe out all ground flora and understory plants, turning the area underneath trees into a featureless muddy waste. With no new trees emerging below the canopy, ready to replace the ageing tree stock, the woodland’s ability to regenerate itself is interrupted. Maintaining a clear and usable path network is a crucial part of preventing erosion. Another key threat is the encroachment of invasive species such as cherry laurel, spotted laurel and rhododendron. A legacy of the Victorians’ passion for exotic foliage these plants pose a real problem as they propagate through woodland, shading-out everything below them and poisoning the soil with their toxic leaf litter.
London Wildlife Trust’s new Heritage Lottery funded project: The Great North Wood will seek to address these threats by enlisting local people in efforts to manage woodland for wildlife. The project is currently in a nine month development phase during which London Wildlife Trust will be consulting extensively with local stakeholders. We will submit a funding bid to Heritage Lottery fund in November with the hope of securing funds to deliver the project for four years. Working alongside the five borough councils which the project area encompasses as well as the Forestry Commission, the Greater London Authority and numerous Friends groups and community groups the project aims to make significant improvements to south London’s woodland environment over the lifespan of the project and beyond. An extensive programme of community engagement events will allow a diverse audience to learn about and experience the woodland and remind people about the largely forgotten landscape of the Great North Wood.
To find out more about the project and how to get involved contact Sam (Project Development Officer) – [email protected]/07734 599288 or visit the Great North Wood online: