Streatham Common has been chosen for an innovative biodiversity offset project, aimed at restoring sections of the Great North Wood, launched today by Environment Secretary Owen Patterson MP.
The project will see native species of trees, shrubs and other plants planted at carefully selected areas on Streatham Common (most of which was declared Lambeth’s first ever Local Nature Reserve in April 2013). The scheme’s led by Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme, in partnership with London Wildlife Trust and the London Borough of Lambeth and with support by Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Biodiversity offsetting aims to ensure that new natural sites are created or enhanced as compensation in a measurable way for sites that undergo unavoidable damage or loss due to development. The Streatham scheme uses a new trial metric for calculating biodiversity loss and the associated level of compensation needed.
Lambeth Cllr Imogen Walker, cabinet member for Environment said, “Streatham Common and the Rookery are two of our most popular open spaces, and Lambeth council works alongside the Friends of Streatham Common, Streatham Society and Streatham Common Community Garden. This new project, in partnership with London Wildlife Trust and Thameslink, will ensure that the common and the Rookery continue to be somewhere to enjoy and get close to wildlife in a safe and welcoming setting. After all, nature is as much part of our community as our people, this new exciting phase underlines our commitment to it.”
The Great North Wood covered most of the area of hilly ground between Deptford, Streatham and Elmers End. It was first mapped in the late-1600s and by the 18th century was a mosaic of coppices and more open commons. It was managed intensively to provide key resources for local industry; timber, charcoal and tannin. The explosive suburban growth of London from the 1850s led to the widespread destruction of much of the remainder of the wood by 1900.