#62b: Towards a long-term plan for wildlife management. Feb. 4, 2013.

February 4, began with a beautiful sunny morning
and it set the scene for a new beginning.

Above: Paul Highman, who manages parks in the Dulwich
area, Ecology consultant Alan Scott of Complete
Ecology and Jon Best, Ecology Officer made their
way across a waterlogged field down to the
Lakeside Wildlife Walk.

Right: Alan Scott explained
his recommendations for the site to the Southwark
officers and committee members of the Friends.
“Hopefully, we have now seen this project through to a successful conclusion.”

Martin Heath, Chair, Friends of Belair Park: “I had the pleasure of creating the Lakeside Wildlife Walk and together with the community, have fought preserve it through the years. We have been living with the negative legacy of a past Southwark regime, which tried to enforce a Year Zero approach. We were supposed to surrender the right to talk to the press or public about the
Wildlife Walk except through consultants who would be appointed by Southwark to redesign the site from scratch – wiping out the community’s hard work. An insider suggested that someone probably hoped to re-brand our project as their own. We launched a successful campaign to overturn this scheme. Our concern has been that any management plan should build upon what we have established, not simply sweep it aside for a new project. There is no better way to promote the cause of ecology than to give people an
opportunity to make a real difference. Hundreds of volunteers have been kind enough to contribute labour over some years, and their expectation has been that they would be leaving a positive legacy for the future. We want the school children who planted bulbs of native woodland species in 2012 to be able to return a decade or two from now and show their own children bluebells and wood anemones clustered under the trees, and to be able to tell them, ‘we made a difference and so can you.’ Now, we appear to have secured this positive legacy.

The February 4 meeting was constructive and it was concerned with how we could fulfil our long-term goals, as agreed at a Dec. 3, 2012 meeting between the Friends and Southwark. Alan Scott’s experience and expertise was invaluable. His plan will seek to respect the basic compartments of the Wildlife Walk and it will be put to the Friends before being adopted. On
Feb.17, I strolled along our Wildlife Walk. I was pleased to see that the clumps of snowdrops planted on Feb. 23 and 24 last year by the Rosendale Primary School and Turney Road School were out. Hopefully, we have now seen this project through to a successful conclusion.”

Feb. 4, 2013: Kate Ashbrook, General
Secretary of the Open Spaces Society told a
meeting at City Hall that new legislation that
will strip parks and open spaces of a layer of
democratic safeguards appears set to go
ahead. The meeting had been staged by the
London Green Spaces Friends Groups Network,
chaired by Dave Morris. The speaker favoured
parks’ groups taking a tougher stance and
perhaps adopting names that were less cosy
than the familiar “friends of parks.”

An endless task? In Greek mythology, King Sisyphus was
noted for deceit and breaking his word, even to the gods. After
cunning escapes, he finally ended up in Tartarus, where he was
to be tormented for all eternity by having to push a gigantic
stone to the top of a hill, only to see it roll down again, each and
every time, without fail. Drawing left from online Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology.

Many open space campaigners have an inkling of how frustrated
Sisyphus must have felt. All too often, years of hard work
culminate in no net gain and only a return to whatever threats
were looming when they first became entangled in trying to save
some green space or other. This is all the more infuriating for the
fact that it is generally councils and developers, rather than
campaigners, who are the practitioners of deceit and bad faith.
It is time for groups defending urban green space to work together to mount much stronger, higher-profile campaigns to safeguard our public parks.

Meanwhile, protester power has made our
local roads a little bit safer. Right: Railings
around this road island in busy Thurlow Park Road
(SE27), near its junction with Lancaster Avenue,
have now been restored by Transport for London.
The island is opposite a school, so this is a victory
for both safety and common sense.

Tel. 020 8670 8924


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Filed under Friends of Belair Park, Southwark Council

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