Earlier this year, the London Borough of Southwark appointed The Ecology Consultancy to carry out an ecological survey of Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) to inform their Local Plan. Southwark’s current records date back to 1994/5 with no subsequent borough-wide survey having taken place. Thus, an up-to-date picture of the Borough’s wildlife habitats is important to guide future planning and development.
Southwark is one of the most densely developed of London’s boroughs. However, it has over 130 parks and open spaces including remnants of the Great North Wood at Sydenham Hill Wood and one of London’s iconic cemeteries at Nunhead, both sites of London-wide importance for nature conservation.
Initial results of this summer’s surveys suggest the biodiversity value of several of Borough’s sites, notably Burgess Park, has improved through habitat creation including species-rich grassland, ponds, native hedgerows and wetlands. Of particular interest was the recording of a nationally rare plant, allseed Polycarpon tetraphyllum, found between paving slabs near Surrey Quays. In London, this species is probably an escapee, finding its way into the country in the pots of ornamental shrubs and, thus, should not be regarded as notable as it is most likely of non-native stock. Another unusual feature discovered during the survey at Galleywall Road Nature Garden, was a large habitat wall formed by a series of square panels that wrapped around the boundary of the site. The panels were constructed of scraps of wood and concrete slabs, of various shapes and sizes, providing invertebrate habitat as well as visual screening from the adjacent road.
Some of the outputs of this work will include:
- updated information for existing sites SINCs and proposals for designation of new SINCs;
- advice on suitable enhancements and how these will contribute to London’s biodiversity targets, and
- identification of habitat linkages between sites to promote a more strategic approach to nature conservation within the borough
The completed report is due out early next year.