Village Copse - A New Woodland for Dulwich Park

A new area of woodland has been created in Dulwich Park. Thanks to the generosity of the Dulwich Village Preservation Society, part of the north-western corner of the park has been planted with 20 standard oak trees and around 1000 small "whips" of native hedge and understorey species. The mini-woodland has been christened Village Copse because of its nearness to the centre of the Village.

The planting was made possible by a grant from the DVPS to Dulwich Park Friends, who came up with the idea of traditional oak-and-bluebells mixed English woodland, bisected by a winding path that culminates in a central grassy glade. Members of the Dulwich Society's trees and wildlife committee who sit on the DPF committee helped turn the plans into reality. Five thousand bluebell bulbs will be planted this autumn.

The planting work was done by Quadron, which maintains the park, and was overseen by the Trust for Urban Ecology which is hoping to incorporate logs in the copse to encourage stag beetles, one of the priority species in the new Southwark biodiversity plan. The copse, which is in the corner beyond the main West Lawns sports pitches, is the first woodland to be planted in Dulwich for many years and will link up with the belt of trees stretching along the back of Court Lane to the Burial Ground to create a green corridor between the park and the village centre. Woodland and woodland edge are among the best habitats for birds and butterflies, so the copse should be good for wildlife as well as creating a type of landscape feature the park currently lacks.

It will also compliment the new woodland-edge walk around the perimeter of the park created over the past year through the cheapest landscape design technique known to man - benign neglect (the perimeter has not been cut back or mown and leaf litter has been left in situ). One result was a surge in butterfly numbers last summer - around 16 species were recorded. Residents whose gardens back on to the park could help boost biodiversity still further by leaving "space for nature" at the bottom of their gardens.

David Nicholson-Lord
Trees/Wildlife Committees

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