With the London Weather Centre already declaring this month the driest June since records began, a councillor in South Croydon has appealed to the public not to light fires or barbecues in one of the area’s most sensitive natural open spaces.
Maria Gatland, the Tory councillor for South Croydon ward, made her appeal today on social media, after the Fire Brigade had to be called out to Croham Hurst Woods last week to dampen down grass blazes which had started because of carelessness with fires, discarded cigarettes or matches.
“Croham Hurst Woods is a wonderful ancient woodland for all to enjoy,” the councillor wrote. “Please, please don’t light fires, it is illegal and so dangerous to people, pets and wildlife.
“It’s very dry now. The Fire Brigade was called out last week.”
The Weather Centre reports that parts of south-east England have had just 1mm of rain since June 1, and with no prospect of the dry spell ending this week, either.
Croham Hurst comprises more than 80 acres and is classified as biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. It is also a Regionally Important Geological Site.
In 1968, two hut sites were discovered in Croham Hurst with low turf walls, which were part of a Mesolithic settlement from around 5,000 to 3,000 years BC. Neolithic flint tools found there show that settlement continued into the later Stone Age. There is also a Bronze Age round barrow, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (a plaque marks the site).
The site is a steep hill, much of which is covered in woodland, including geological features known as Blackheath pebble, named after rounded pebbles made when the area was the base of shallow seas in the Eocene epoch around 50 million years ago. The sparse vegetation at the top is mainly wavy hair-grass, heather and bilberry – and all tinder-dry and susceptible to fire in the summer heat.
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