The Great North Wood is south London’s secret ancient nature reserve and conservation group the London Wildlife Trust has just been awarded a £700,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help restore and preserve what remains of the woodland.
The Great North Wood gave its name to Norwood. The woodland once stretched from Deptford to Selhurst, providing the timber to build ships from the time of Drake to Nelson, and helped to fuel the rapidly growing capital. Over the next four years Croydon Council will be supporting the London Wildlife Trust as they work on a collaborative project with volunteers, community groups, landowners and neighbouring boroughs.
Significant remnants of the Great North Wood can be found in Grangewood Park, Beaulieu Heights and Biggin Wood, as well as around Dulwich golf course, Crystal Palace Park, Sydenham Hill Wood, One Tree Hill and Streatham Common.
The Trust will be revitalising small areas of woodland that, until the Middle Ages, spread out and joined together and covered the high ground south of the Thames. They will also be raising awareness of a woodland that has been reduced, tree-by-tree, as the urbanisation of the area has continued over the past 300 years, and they will be encouraging residents and visitors to explore, enjoy and value the natural wealth on their doorsteps.
The Trust will also address modern pressures such as overuse, fly-tipping and inconsistent management, to ensure this special living landscape is recognised and valued, before it is lost forever.
“The award is fantastic news,” Timothy Godfrey, the Selhurst councillor who is the council cabinet member responsible for parks.
“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.”
According to the Trust, “With strong community involvement, this project 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.”
Sam Bentley-Toon, Great North Wood Project Officer, said: “The Great North Wood is an ambitious and exciting project that will really boost south London’s natural heritage, encouraging Londoners to value, enjoy and care for help their local wildlife hotspots. London Wildlife Trust will be working with five London borough councils and a host of local volunteers as we put the Great North Wood back on the map.”
Anyone who’d like to help with the Great North Wood project can email Sam on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wildlondon.org.uk/great-north-wood.
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