Bringing an ancient landscape back to life

5 July 2017

Written by: London Wildlife Trust

Arts, culture and events - Better Lambeth - Environment - Focus on Streatham - Opportunities

As part of the Living Landscapes initiative, the London Wildlife Trust has been awarded a grant of nearly £700,000 from Heritage Lottery Fund to revive the Great North Wood.

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Bringing an ancient landscape back to life

Throughout the Middle Ages, across a large swathe of south London, an ancient wooded landscape provided timber, charcoal and firewood for the capital, and a home to wildlife and nature. The Great North Wood once covered the high ground between Deptford and Selhurst, and while much has been lost to urban development over the last century or so, echoes of the Wood still exist as a series of small woodlands, parks, cemeteries, sports grounds, railway embankments, and even back gardens. Although these sites no longer form one continuous natural habitat as they once did, all of them still provide a home for London’s wildlife.

Protecting the Great North Wood

Map of the Great North WoodThe Great North Wood now falls under the ownership and control of many different landowners and managers, and is subject to a variety of modern pressures such as overuse, fly-tipping and inconsistent management, but the Trust is determined to ensure that this special Living Landscape* is recognised and valued, before it is lost forever.

Get involved

Over four years the Trust will work with volunteers, community groups, landowners, and local councils, in a collaborative project reviving and re-imagining the Great North Wood as a home for nature and people in a modern urban landscape. It will raise awareness of this largely forgotten woodland, encouraging people to explore, enjoy and value the natural wealth on their doorsteps. With strong community involvement, it 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.

Find out more

Anyone who’d like to help with the Great North Wood project can email Sam on or visit the Great North Wood website.

How the project is funded

This project is only possible thanks to support from National Lottery players through a £699,000 grant from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), with further support from the Mayor of London, Veolia Environmental Trust, the Dulwich Estate, and Dulwich Society. London Wildlife Trust will be working closely with borough councils in Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham, and Southwark, throughout its duration. Significant remnants of the Great North Wood can be found and enjoyed at woodland sites such as Dulwich Wood, Sydenham Hill Wood, One Tree Hill, Streatham Common and Grangewood Park.