Brockley residents raise over £100K to save ancient woodland

  • In Science
  • 2023-01-31 13:00:26Z
  • By BBC
save gorne wood
save gorne wood  

Residents in south-east London have raised more than £116,000 in their bid to protect an ancient woodland.

Gorne Wood, in Brockley, Lewisham, is a rare patch of an old forest, home to a range of endangered wildlife.

The Fourth Reserve Foundation charity has raised enough money to buy a compulsory purchase order from the council, saving it from developers.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England includes Gorne Wood in its top 10 green spaces in London that need rescuing.

Alice Roberts, the head of Green Space Campaigns, said: "London only has half the green space it needs for a population of its size, so spaces like this one are incredibly valuable.

"Despite a long history of public use, the community is in danger of losing access to a unique green space."

'Cathedrals of biodiversity'

The three acres (1.2 hectares) of land is a rare remnant of the Great North wood where 400-year-old trees, and protected and endangered species, including hedgehogs and toads and ancient hedgerows, can still be found.

Director of Conservation at the London Wildlife Trust, Matthew Frith, said: "Ancient woodlands like this are the cathedrals of our biodiversity.

"You wouldn't knock down a cathedral to build a modern house - you lose all the intricacy and complexity that has built up over millennia."

Part of the wood was given to local people 100 years ago but it was recently sold to a private ownership.

In 2021, the Fourth Reserve Foundation and community campaigners began raising money to buy the land.

They had until the end of January to raise the necessary £100,000 to buy a compulsory purchase order.

Having met their target, Lewisham Council agreed to put forward the compulsory purchase order on behalf of the community.

A council spokesperson said: "We are looking to improve the planning protections for this site by designating it as Metropolitan Open Land in our new draft Local Plan, which would prevent inappropriate development such as housing from taking place.

"Following the recent fundraising campaign, we will be working with the local community to explore next steps for this important piece of land."

The charity says the "complex process" means it could take up to two years before the woodland can be restored and protected.

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