12:13PM, Tuesday 15 June 2021
Photo provided by City of London Corporation
Works are currently underway to restore Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common after ‘severe damage' was caused to green spaces during lockdown.
The restoration is being carried out to conserve and protect the popular nature reserves.
Although the reserves have provided a ‘lifeline’ for a lot of people during the pandemic, the ‘huge’ increase in visitors has left them ‘heavily damaged’.
Some of this damage includes erosion, widened paths, soil compaction, trampled grass and disturbed habitats.
The wet weather during the winter has ‘heightened’ the issues and ‘worsened’ the damage.
The City of London Corporation, which owns and manages both reserves, which are part of ‘The Commons’, is going ‘above and beyond’ to conserve and protect the open space for generations to come.
They are doing this by focusing on the restoration of the land to make sure the damage does not become permanent.
The first phase of the ground restoration work has now started, with results ‘already in space’.
Some of this work has included desire lines being closed using cut branches from management work, temporary closures to some areas to let the natural vegetation recover, re-surfacing work being completed in some areas to encourage users to stick to the paths, and temporary signage has also been installed where required to direct walkers to where the paths are.
Graeme Doshi-Smith, chair of the City of London Corporation’s City Commons Committee, 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.”