Clearing the ground
Our project is to renovate Knight’s Hill Wood. People have got used to thinking of Knight’s Hill Wood as just a dumping ground, a place where rats live. After two months work we’re getting it clear – and the more it starts to look like natural woodland, the more interested people are. People walking past stop and ask about it, they want to find out more about the project, then they come to starter sessions. We’re getting local estates involved.
Bringing back native trees
We’re clearing out invasive species, like Ivy and brambles, and planting native tree species like hawthorns and mountain ash. The wood is only a few minutes’ walk from end to end. It’s a long narrow shape because it used to be the garden of Portobello House. We’re also working on Tivoli Park, just over the road.
Many of the volunteers come from our ‘Fathers & Nature’ group. A lot of men said they didn’t feel they fit in very well in parent-and-child groups where women are in the majority. People ask them if they’re unemployed, or house-husbands. They didn’t feel those groups were doing Dad-type things. So we created a Dads group that meets 10am to 12pm on Saturdays. Dads get dedicated time with their children doing active things they feel more comfortable with, like digging a pond or chopping wood.
Creating a nature reserve
Once the Wood is restored, we’ll be working with Lambeth’s Parks team to get Knight’s Hill turned into a nature reserve to protect for future generations. When we take children out to nature reserves they immediately become much calmer, less distracted. Even when it’s not Forest School and they’re learning mainstream subjects, it’s a much better learning environment.
For more information about Fathers in Nature, Forest School, Knight’s Hill and more about Nature Vibezzz see www.naturevibezzz.org