Annual General Meetings are not usually far up the list of most people’s unmissable events but the attendance at the Dulwich Society’s 55th annual AGM was high and the newly refurbished meeting room at the Crown & Greyhound in the Village was packed. Although the business went smoothly and there were a number of points of interest raised from the floor, the highlight for many of those attending was undoubtedly the short illustrated talk by Edwin Malins of the London Wildlife Trust who spoke about the Great North Wood Project.
For the uninitiated, the Great North Wood Project is a four-year long exercise based on a one year pilot scheme carried out by the LWT. The Project has received a £700,000 funding from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The purpose of the project is to raise awareness of the existence of stretches of important woodlands, fragments of the ancient forest which once stretched from Deptford to Croydon and of which Dulwich and Sydenham Hill woods form the largest remaining part. Other areas which are also included in the project are One Tree Hill, Biggin Wood (Norwood), Grangewood Park and Streatham Common. This will be done through events in each of the areas, designed for both children and adults. The interest thus raised will, it is anticipated, deliver bands of volunteers to carry out the work of removing brambles, and invasive species like Cherry Laurel and False Acacias, improve paths and to open up some areas through thinning of the foliage to allow more light to penetrate. Edwin demonstrated in his talk the success of the volunteer scheme and illustrated the work being done with pictures of teams of volunteers working at each of the sites.
The area covered by the Great North Wood Project stretches over five London boroughs and compliments the scheme of the Mayor of London who has committed £9m to a Green City Fund to plant trees and improve green spaces in every neighbourhood in order to make London a National Park City.
The Dulwich Society was instrumental in assisting the application through match funding and is listed, along with the Mayor of London, Heritage Lottery Fund, Veolia and the Dulwich Estate as one of the Great North Wood Project sponsors. The Society can also take great credit for raising public awareness to the importance of the wood through its research and articles on its history which have been key factors in making its heritage better known. Additionally, it was the Society which led the vigorous campaign to stop parts of Sydenham Hill Wood being covered with housing.
On page 31 of this Journal, Daniel Greenwood gives a detailed account of the Natural History of One Tree Hill one of areas Edwin talked about in the presentation.