Restoration of Burnham Beeches underway after lockdown damage
Works to restore Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common after severe damage was caused to the green spaces during the Covid lockdown are now underway – to protect and conserve the popular nature reserves.
Whilst the green gems provided a lifeline to many during the pandemic, the huge increase of visitors left the nature reserves heavily damaged - with widened paths, erosion, trampled grass, soil compaction and disturbed habitats. The wet weather over winter heightened the problems and worsened the damage.
Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common are part of ‘The Commons’ and are owned and managed by the City of London Corporation. The Commons also include Ashtead Common, West Wickham and Coulsdon Commons, Farthing Downs, Kenley Common, Riddlesdown and Spring Park, all located on the borders of South London, Croydon and Surrey.
As guardians of Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common, the City of London Corporation is going above and beyond to protect and conserve the open space for future generations by putting a huge focus on the restoration of the land to ensure the damage does not become permanent.
It has now commenced the first phase of ground restoration work, with results already in place. This has included temporary closures to some areas to allow the natural vegetation to recover and some desire lines have also been closed using cut branches from management work. Re-surfacing work has been carried out in some areas to encourage walkers to stick to the paths and not to stray. Where required, temporary signage has been installed to indicate to users where the paths are.
Chair of the City of London Corporation’s City Commons Committee, Graeme Doshi-Smith, said:
““It was very positive to see so many people using their local park or green spaces whilst socialising indoors was not permitted. However, this brought a series of challenges for Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common, and resulted in some significant damage.
“The good news is that work has already begun to ensure the landscape will recover, but it may take some time and will require carefully planned interventions.
“Visitor numbers are much lower than the previous months during lockdown, which will help with the restoration work.
“These proactive efforts have meant that we can already see positive changes. We all need to work together to preserve these green spaces and that’s what we will do as guardians of the Commons.”
The Commons are registered charitable trusts, with the City of London Corporation as the main funder and trustee. The Commons are a valued collective of open spaces including Sites of Special Scientific Interest and historic landscapes, with scheduled monuments and other important features. The Commons cover around 1,000 hectares.
The City Corporation protects 4,450 hectares of green space in London and south east England – including Epping Forest and Burnham Beeches - and over 200 smaller ones in the Square Mile, investing more than £40m a year.
These sites, most of which are charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They include important wildlife habitats, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation.
Kristina Drake| Media Officer, Public Services
City of London Corporation
D: 020 7332 1125
Notes to editors
About the City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk