Help revive the Great North Wood in Brockwell Park

Brockwell Park
Brockwell Park

London Wildlife Trust is inviting people of all ages to plant a new generation of trees in Brockwell Park tomorrow (19 February) as part of its Great North Wood project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The trust says that an oak planted now could live for up to six centuries. Some Brockwell Park trees are believed to be as old as 500 years.

The Great North Wood once stretched between Deptford, Streatham and Selhurst. The managed woodland provided timber, charcoal and firewood for London and were interspersed with common land grazed by livestock. The wood was divided and largely sold off in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Fragments of the old wood can still be seen at more than 20 sites in south London, most notably at Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Woods.

The trust believes the Great North Wood has the potential to come alive again, bringing nature back into the capital and enriching the lives of Londoners.

Brockwell Park
Brockwell Park

Great North Wood project development officer Sam Bentley-Toon said: “Access to nature is really good for us; research has shown measurable benefits to our health and wellbeing.

“We want to raise people’s awareness of this largely forgotten woodland on their doorsteps, and encourage them to get outside to explore, enjoy and value London’s nature.”

Sam will be joined by Brockwell Park Community Partners and the Friends of Brockwell Park and is inviting anyone who is interested to join him on Friday at the Cressingham Gardens entrance to the park for two tree planting sessions, one from 11.00am to 12.00pm and one from 1.00pm to 2.00pm. No experience is necessary and all tools will be provided.

Native British trees such as oak, hornbeam and hazel in the form of whips, young trees that are just three to four years old, will be planted.

London Wildlife Trust CEO Gordon Scorer said: “By securing funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Mayor of London’s Tree and Woodland Community Grant Scheme, this project will be able to work with people and nature across a large expanse of south London.

“This tree planting event is just the start of a nine-month development stage that, if successful, could lead to the Great North Wood being recognised once again as a valuable natural resource and as a scenic gem in south London.”

If the first stage of the project is successful, the trust will seek further funding of around £700,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to secure significant improvements to the wood.

Key sites within the Great North Wood include:

  • Biggin Wood
  • Crystal Palace Park
  • Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Wood
  • Grangewood Park
  • Hillcrest Estate Wood
  • Horniman Gardens
  • Long Lane Wood
  • New Cross Gate to Forest Hill railway linesides
  • Norwood Park
  • One Tree Hill
  • South Norwood Country Park
  • Streatham Common.


  1. The massive oak tree in front of Brockwell Hall in the park is around 500 -600 years old. It is a beautiful tree and it’s girth has to be around 6 metres. It was around long before Henry VIII and was probably planted around the time that the land belonged to the Monastries. There is another oak from the same era but that is little more than a trunk now and it is near the Brockwell Park Road entrance. The huge oak on Josephine Avenue is most probably from the same era and all these old oaks could well have been used to mark some sort of boundary. These are magnificent trees and will be around for many more centuries to come. It is amazing to think that one of those young oak saplings planted yesterday could in 2600 be a super tree like those we see today. Trees support much wildlife and are a host to many species. The sad thing is we humans can chop a tree down in a matter of minutes yet it takes hundreds of years to grow. London and Lambeth need look after these trees for future generations and planting those yesterday is a great way to continue to do so.

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