June 2013

This important topic was introduced by Ken Hobday, the LFGN representative for Biodiversity. He explained the importance of this for Friends Groups and green spaces generally. He also referred to notes produced by the Lordship Rec Wildlife Group (circulated at the meeting – see summary below) as a good example of what local Friends Groups can achieve.. Representatives from several organisations concerned with biodiversity spoke briefly about their work, including the London Wildlife Trust, Greenspace Information for Greater London, London Invasive Species Initiative, Woodland Trust, and OPAL.  
A lively and interesting discussion followed with contributions from local Friends groups representatives who described biodiversity activities in their green spaces.  Some reports included:

– (SUTTON) A grant from Public Realm department had been given to the Friends of St Mary’s Park to create a dog free area. Such areas could help biodiversity because dogs don’t always help to encourage wildlife.
– (LAMBETH)  The Friends of Palace Road Gardens have created a new green space on the site of old house . With a grant from the West River Environmental Trust, they have created a wildlife meadow and opened up an array of wild, edible plants, including wild mustard, wild kale and spinach. (Samples shown). They would like to have a survey done to help identify existing plants.
– (CAMDEN)  The Friends of Waterlow Park have restored the old site of the Kitchen Garden as a community growing space with a wildflower bed, funded and planted a new orchard, and a sensory border. They also monitor Camden’s Tree policy working with the Council Tree team and clean and inspect the bat boxes in the Park.
– (CAMDEN)  Also in Camden six main butterfly sites have been established, one in a street garden. The aim is to introduce Butterfly Trusts in all London Boroughs.
– (HARINGEY)  Members of the Friends of Lordship Rec have set up a Wildlife Group to monitor and promote biodiversity. They have held workshops on bats, butterflies, wetland management, straw bale building and wildflower meadow management. They have also done surveys of plants and animals; monitor tree survival; monitor water quality of recently deculverted river and helped publish a pamphlet on a walk along that river; planted wildflower seeds; made adjustments to the park’s management plan. Trying to balance needs of all park users, including sports etc.
– (LEWISHAM)  The Friends of Bedford Park have worked on water policy and surveyed wild life losses.
– (HACKNEY)  The Friends of Hackney Marsh  monitor wildlife and have counted 21 species of butterflies including a rare chalkham blue and a brown argus. They have maintained eight green flags and continued vegetable growing;  bought nine red pole cattle which are behind an electric fence. A  Llamas grazing system (for sheep) has been introduced with the support of Natural England.
 – (BRENT)   A small, derelict site has been transformed with a lottery grant by the Friends of Pocket Park. A local garden designer helped with a somewhat formal structure that the Friends are trying to make more natural. To this end they have created a pond, log piles and a bird interpretation board to identify the number of bird types.
 – (TOWER HAMLETS)   The Friends of Mile End Park working with the City Farm, introduced a scheme to herd a flock of sheep down to the Park to graze the grass. In neighbouring Victoria Park the Friends have helped to introduce fresh water into the lake through bore holes. Carp have been reintroduced to the lake by the anglers but not really wanted because they attack (and eat?) the smaller fish.
 – (RICHMOND) The Friends of Richmond Park are an active group who carry out specific task offered by the Local Authority. Cycling time trials have become popular in the Park which mitigates to some extent against biodiversity. These trials are organised through the internetby an organisation abroad so nothing can be done to prevent them. The Park is designated as a Triple A biodiversity site.
 – (LAMBETH)   The Friends of Milkwood Park which employs a park keeper, has a ten year management plan which is close to renewal.  There are four vegetable beds tended regularly by the Friends. The volunteer group wants to introduce activities for children. All suggestions for such activities are welcome. Training is an important issue here.
– (LEWISHAM)  The Friends of Sydenham Wells Park have observed bats, owls, newts and many bird species. They have used the AMYA volunteers to help with a variety of tasks. (LEWISHAM)
The wide variety of projects illustrated above is a tribute to the energy and commitment of Friends groups in London. Time was limited for this discussion and all the projects discussed do not reflect the full extent of what actually goes on in the Parks and Green spaces of London. They are a tribute to the magnificent work of Friends Groups across London and the positive effects they are having.
Commenting on the contributions the Wildlife Trust said that doing surveys was important. Bioblitz is a useful tool and easy to use. Children love doing them. They produce a Stag Beetle Spotter that lists ways to help them gather in gardens as well as parks. Leaving dead wood helps them. Fund raising. Small grants are available from the Trust and they will be running fund raising workshops in November/December at Skyline House in London.
GIGL works with the Wildlife Trust and with London Boroughs. Their approach is to ask people to report what they’ve seen. Its not just for professionals as all info will be logged on their reporting system and cross-referenced.
The London Invasive Species Initiative helps to brush up identification skills and makes available identification sheets to spot and report unwelcome and damaging species..
The Woodland Trust offers guidance to help for upgrading biodiversity status. The diversity of sites is important. Community tree packs are available.

Kew will launch a wildflower initiative next year when seeds with soil testing kits will be made available.
The London Parks & Green Spaces Forum mentioned that another round of GLA grants will be available next year for Community Woodland development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.