Our response to Southwark cemeteries plans

As you may be aware there has been quite a lot of activity and protest around Southwark’s plans for Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries. There are many issues around the desire to retain open space and the wish to provide burial space for those who want it.

The Friends of One Tree Hill Committee has responded to the plans, focusing on our remit as a friends group to protect and enhance the OTH Local Nature Reserve. We have attended stakeholder meetings and put in a response that addresses proposed removal of trees and shrubs and replanting along the boundary between CNC and the allotments.

Below is the detailed response we submitted.

Sandy Pepperell, Chair, Friends of One Tree Hill


Comments on LBS plans for Camberwell New Cemetery (CNC) Area D1

Camberwell New Cemetery is a burial site adjacent to the OTH Local Nature Reserve and the Allotments.

The main aspects of the CNC plans that are of concern to us are the widening of the glade next to the boundary with the OTH allotments and the construction of an access path. In particular we wish to comment on what is planned for the boundary so that there is appropriate continuity in the ecology between the two sites.

The plans (available at the Cemeteries office in CNC) state that it is proposed to retain “the wooded feel and nature conservation interest of the area and retaining a wooded buffer to One Tree Hill” (p.7) and “mature trees [are] to be retained where possible”. In addition the aim is to “improve’ the area ecologically.

Concern has been voiced about the extension of the glade area to more than double its current area and to add a new access path. These clearly represent an encroachment on the current rather clear glade with few graves. However, the Friends of One Tree Hill are focused on responding to plans as they affect the LNR. We also recognize that the grasslands which make up any glades are mown regularly, are species-poor and could benefit from re-seeding with native species of wildflower which are local to the area.

There are many proposals that we welcome and some where we would seek reassurance that OTH will not be adversely affected.

  1. We welcome the plans to leave timber from felled trees on the site but wish to see this extended so that none is chipped but transferred into the LNR for log piling and dead hedging if not usable in CNC so that no timber is wasted.
  2. We welcome plans for bird and bat boxes and would ask whether it is possible to include boxes over the border in the LNR?
  3. While we would be concerned about tree removal, we believe the holm oak down for ‘translocation’ should indeed be removed, but for the reason that it is an invasive species which shades out native broadleaved woodland and becomes dominant.
  4. We are concerned about the planting of yews close to the LNR boundary, a species which, while we recognize they are traditional in cemeteries, are not compatible with planting on OTH LNR and may spread there and out-compete deciduous species such as oak, ash, hazel and field maple.
  5. We would wish that shrubs cleared at the boundary could be made into dead hedges rather than chipped, where possible. The Friends could play a role in this management work.
  6. We wish the grassed area to be mowed and raked, with all arising removed, at appropriate times, ideally either once in the autumn or once in the spring, the late summer and finally in the autumn to support an array of bees, butterflies, moths and other invertebrates
  7. Planting should be considered through CNC to complement planting on OTH i.e. native trees and shrubs (oaks Quercus robur and patraea, cherry Prunus avium, hazel Corylus avellana, field maple Acer campestre, hornbeam Carpinus betulus, silver birch Betula pendula, holly Ilex aquifolium, sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus,. as have been planted alongside the recreation ground) rather than ornamental ‘park’ trees like London plane, non-native ornamental oaks, and so on. We recognize that native oaks have been planted in the recreation ground boundary with CNC and welcome this management.
  8. We would ask that the species of Hornbeam should be considered and that Carpinus betulus be planted rather than the cultivar ‘Fastigiata’. The hornbeam should be planted close to One Tree Hill so that its poorly-dispersing seeds may enter the woodland stock and establish a typical Great North Wood oak-hornbeam mixture.
  9. We are keen to know how the areas of remaining woodland will be managed in the long-term for the habitats. What work will be done to manage these areas and who will undertake the work?
  10. Any planting along the Honor Oak Allotments-CNC boundary should recognize the two mature/veteran oaks which are present and may suffer from disturbance to the roots from digging for planting.
  11. We welcome to sowing of the grasslands in CNC with a native wildflower mix. However, we are concerned that any attempt to install ‘pictorial’ meadows will miss the point. The listing of bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus is welcome, and other species native to the grasslands include self-heal Prunella vulgaris and red clover Trifolium pratense. It is encouraging to see sensitive considerations made here in the Cemetery plans.

Site visit with Southwark Council

On Friday 17th July we met with Southwark Council’s Ecology Officer Jon Best to discuss the management of One Tree Hill. There were a wealth of butterflies, bees and dragonflies active on the day so it was the perfect time to visit.

The management plan for One Tree Hill needs updating to ensure that the aims are achievable and that the habitats can be properly managed for the benefit of wildlife. Bramble is an important resource for invertebrates and for blackberries but it is expanding into some of areas of grassland where it needs to be kept back. We also discussed the possibility of a pond to support dragonflies and amphibians.

Events 2016

Events on One Tree Hill 2016

 Annual Meeting April 7th St. Augustine’s Church 7.30pm

“Uses and Folklore of Wild Plants” Roy Vickery (South London Botanical Institute – http://www.slbi.org.uk)

Contact Sandy Pepperell at s.pepperell@btinternet.com for more details

For all of the following meet at the gates to St Augustine’s church

  • Dawn Chorus Walk – 9th April 5:00 am
  • Dusk Chorus Walk – 19th  May 7:30 pm
  • Tree Walk 4th June 2.00 – 3. 30pm
  • Bat Walk Wed 8th June 9pm
  • Wildflower Walk 7th July 7.30 – 8.30pm
  • Great North Wood walk – 20th August 12 noon
  • Fungi day with Sydenham Hill Woods, Peckham Rye and others – 7th November (details to follow)

Contact Doug Brooks for the Dawn and Dusk chorus walks doug.brooks@evenfurtherrail.co.uk

Contact Dan Greenwood for the Bat and GNW walks d.j.greenwood@live.com

Contact Sam Bentley-Toon for the Tree Walk sbtoon@wildlondon.org.uk/  or  07734 599286

Additional Event Sunday July 27th 2014

Sunday 27th July 1-3pm

The Big Butterfly Count on OTH

The annual Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count is upon us and the Friends will be conducting a survey on a walk around One Tree Hill.

Please join us. We will be handing out survey forms and id charts for you to complete your own survey at home.
Previously we have recorded Speckled Wood, Essex Skipper, Comma, Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Holly Blue and lots of Gatekeepers!
Meet at the FrOTH Notice Board by the gates leading to St. Augustine’s Church.

For more information on this national event go to http://www.bigbutterflycount.org


Speckled wood

Speckled wood

February workday – prunus, please!


Blackthorn pruning, the Oak of Honor looking resplendent in the top right

This month we met on Saturday 1st February to continue pruning the blackthorn (Prunus spinosa, please) along the top of the hill. Left unmanaged, blackthorn will spread through the grasslands and all the way up to the pathway, taking over the grasslands and growing into small trees. We cut the shrubs down to about head height and filled the gaps with the brash to thicken it up a bit. This can look quite untidy to people, but as a Local Nature Reserve, we are doing our bit to support the site’s diverse wildlife by keeping the hedges in a denser, more shrub-like state.


The blackthorn hedge mid-cut

It looks a little like warfare – and it felt like it, blackthorn is brutal! – but the hedge will come back stronger in the spring and summer. And look at the state of the hedge back in September shows just how big it had become:


Well done to the Friends of One Tree Hill volunteers for a sustained effort over the autumn and winter, we look forward to seeing it sprout anew in the coming months. Our next workday will be in March.


Winter tree ID – Saturday 18th January 2014, 12noon

Join us on Saturday 18th January 2014 at 12noon for a guide to the trees of One Tree Hill. Daniel Greenwood will be leading the walk and pointing out how to identify trees when not in leaf by looking at bark, buds, tree shape and habitat.

Please meet on the Honor Oak Park drive, email d.j.greenwood@live.com for more information.

This is a free walk, all welcome, dogs on leads during the walk please.


Bird box check, December 2013

On Saturday 7th December 2013 we conducted our annual bird box check and clean out (a little earlier this winter). We discovered that most of the boxes had been used, mostly by great tit and blue tit but possibly also the nuthatch, a bird which likes to line the hole of some bird boxes with a mud lining to reduce the size of the hole and deter larger predators from gaining entry.


Above you can see the variety of materials that tits use to create their nests. Mosses, dog hair, wool, grasses and even the bright yellow tennis ball ‘hair’ is used. The nests are often well stocked with fleas, and one nest in particular was positively thriving with them.


Chris brings his ladder every year to help with the job. Helmets are a priority for anyone under the ladder as the lids of the boxes can cause serious injury if they hit you on the head.


One of the boxes was attached to a large poplar that came down in October’s storm. We managed to find it, underneath the tree. Obviously we joked that it was the weight of the box that proved the final straw for the tree. It would also appear that one of our owl boxes has disappeared. Tawny owls are yet to breed at One Tree Hill whilst we have been surveying but residents nearby regularly hear them calling, and the birds are known to breed in Nunhead Cemetery, at Sydenham Hill Wood and in the wooded parkland and open greens around Dulwich.

On Saturday we spotted a sparrowhawk flying low through the woodland, with a flock of long-tailed tits trilling in harmony to warn of its approach. A flock of parakeets then arrived to disturb the hungry hawk.


Fungi walk recap

Thanks to local fungi expert David Warwick for leading the Friends of One Tree Hill’s fungi walk on Saturday. We discovered hare’s ears, knights, milkcaps, deceivers, waxcaps, bonnets and brackets and observed how the return of the site to woodland after a brief hiatus for the Oak of Arnon Wood showed that grassland species were retreating as the woodland regained its hold on the landscape. We also spotted two red admiral butterflies basking in the hilltop sunshine. Thank you also to everyone who attended and made it a very interesting and enjoyable community event.



David identifies some fungi growing atop the hill

Oak of Honor

The Oak of Honor looking rather verdant so late in the year

David Warwick

David discusses the issue of ash dieback, a fungi to be feared

Fungi walk, Saturday 16th November

Parasol mushroom

Parasol mushroom at One Tree Hill by D. Greenwood

On Saturday 16th November local fungi expert David Warwick will be leading a walk on One Tree Hill.

Meet at the noticeboard on the drive to St. Augustine’s Church at 12noon, reach along Honor Oak Park, up the steps if entering near the allotments after arriving at Honor Oak Park station. Please wear appropriate footwear and outdoor clothing. This is a free walk and booking is not required.

Please note that this is not a foraging event. One Tree Hill is a Local Nature Reserve where all plants, animals and fungi are protected by law. Urban nature reserves can be greatly disturbed by foraging due to their unique ecological character and isolation.