Lordship Rec Wildlife Focus Group

Report of Site Visit/Meeting: 21st May 09
By Michael Bury, BTCV


§ Dave Morris – Friends of Lordship Rec
§ Caroline Jepson – Friends of Lordship Rec
§ Ruth Greene – Friends of Lordship Rec
§ Michael Bury – BTCV
§ Ian Holt – Conservation Officer for Haringey Council
§ Helen Steel – Park Officer for Lordship Rec
§ Ghazale Jamsheed – Friends of Lordship Rec
§ Peter Corley – Tree Trust for Haringey

Codes: All codes in brackets relate to the current Masterplan map of park

Aim of meeting:
Assess wildlife habitats and areas relevant to London BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) within Lordship Rec, identifying and addressing any current issues or potential issues. Agree on principles and goals of focus group.
Key habitat areas:
§ Proposed bike track woodland area (around adventure playground)
§ Moselle River
§ Lake
§ Model traffic area
§ Grasslands
§ Areas of mature trees
§ Areas of broadleaf trees
§ Deadwood
§ Other areas

Agenda items:
§ Conservation of woodland area in proposed bike track area
§ Moselle River ecological corridor
§ Location of bird and bat boxes
§ Lake & island
§ Lighting in park
§ Possible conservation activities for community, youth, Friends and BTCV groups
§ Reptile survey
§ Any other item
§ Future meeting 

Conservation of Lordship Rec
DM handed around copies of the Lordship Rec Masterplan map, Tree Strategy Plan Map, Phase 1 Habitat Plan Map and the Phase 1 Habitat Survey Report as the basic reference guides for the visit.
IH stated that Lordship Rec is a ‘Local Area level of Scientific Importance to Nature Conservation’ and that he and Haringey Council would like to upgrade the park to a ‘Borough Grade Site of Importance for Nature Conservation.

Action:   It was agreed that the group’s key goal is for Lordship Rec to be upgraded to this level and that this should be included in any management plan of the park. All briefs need to have a strong environmental methodology (WHO will contact them?). IH will send MB details of the Borough Area level agreement to add to these minutes. MB will act as a liaison between group and council.

Proposed bike track area (2b & 2c)
Masterplan states that track will loop around adventure playground.
IH thinks it is a suitable area for the proposed bike track as close to other sporting amenities. Group was concerned of impact of track on local wildlife and the large areas of trees that would have to be removed as a result. IH recognised that there would be a loss of habitat here if the bike track goes ahead but that it should be looked at in the context of the larger park restoration project as a whole which will increase habitat provision.

It was decided that the grassland area was important to wildlife, IH mentioned that Marsh Fox Tail grass was recorded in the park and thought that some might be present although he could not be certain. The group agreed that the area should be retained, used as part of the 20m buffer zone of current bike track proposal. The grassy area, which includes a seasonal pond, could be managed to ensure that it is free of trees and shrubs and mowed appropriately. IH didn’t seem to think we would be eligible to apply for the Millennium Ponds project grant.

Woodland to the east of the adventure playground was deemed to have a good mixture of mature trees and shrubs, group decided it would be disappointing for this area to be disturbed and for trees to be removed
The woodland area to the west of the adventure playground was deemed as being quite dense with little ground growth, the group agreed that it needs thinning out.

HS showed a design map from Sep 07 that shows a smaller bike track with loop on the western side of the playground only. DM said the bike designers decided there would not be enough space for the loop in this area and that the final design needed to be approved in June. On inspection of the western area though there did seem to be enough space for a loop and for the bike track to only affect the western side of the area.

Haringey Council’s April 09 site survey states that a reptile survey needs to be completed before work starts.

Action:   Park team to retain and manage grassland. As much of the nature conservation value of the whole area should be retained as possible when designing the proposed bike track. If time, designers should look at original design and give reasons why there isn’t space for the track in the western side only. Reptile survey needs to be organised. (WHO will contact them?)

South-east field (7)
Masterplan states that new nut and fruit trees are to be planted, RG stated that new trees should have robust guards/cages.

The group felt that the conservation value of this area should be extended to include a meadow alongside the masterplan’s new footpath, between areas 4c & 7. IH said we should make a decision about what type all proposed meadows should be. The bramble patch is appreciated by some park users for foraging and has conservation value. The whole field could be a place of quiet relaxation, and food-related features.

IH suggested that this area could be left to see what grows naturally or have the turf stripped to allow the seed bank to germinate however HS seemed to think this area had a history of disturbance from a previous existence as an allotment therefore the sowing of a wildflower mix would probably be more suitable. RG suggested planting wildflower plugs.

Action:   Additonal meadow to be added to masterplan. New trees to have robust guards/cages. (WHO will contact them?) HS to ask Ray about past history of this area. Group to decide type of meadows.

Moselle River Corridor (4a-f)
Masterplan states that this area will be an ecological corridor after the old Moselle ‘ditch’ is filled in. IH stated that to create this corridor, it was inevitable that some trees and plants along the banks and direction of waterflow will be lost, but the benefits would far out way this loss of wildlife habitats. He also stated that the trees would need to thinned out for their own benefit and also to create sight lines.

The group decided that mature trees should only be removed if there was a very strong reason and that any standing deadwood that needed to be removed, should instead be cut and remain on the site. There is also the potential for the expansion of this ‘corridor’ on each side.

DM stated that an area of woodland along the Moselle, north-east of lake, is an important remembrance area maintained by the Friends of Graham Lee, and as many of the trees there should be retained as possible.
Masterplan also states that trees in shaded areas of map will be removed.

Action:   Designers must ensure that mature trees must remain, unless strong reason for removal, alongside deadwood (which must remain on site) and remembrance area. Designers should clarify why trees in shaded areas of entire masterplan map are being removed. (WHO?).

Lake (3d)
A bid for a Biffa Award grant has been applied for by the Friends to remove the build up of silt in the north-east of the lake and used to build up the island’s banks to stop it from subsiding. If successful work could start in November.
MB stated that BTCV proposed dredging the lake, CJ said there were a number of alternative methods to avoid the loss of water and disturbance to wildlife, IH provided contact Francis Castro at Redbridge Council who has done similar work.
RG stated that it would be a good idea to keep some of the silt in the water in that corner and for plants, but some people were concerned about the shading in that corner. HS stated that the silt should also be used to create a lie lowing area on the west side of the island suitable for reptiles or toads. Any terrapins should be removed and re-homed.
It was noted that a willow tree on the west of the island might affect the work and that no-one was sure if island trees had been surveyed.

MB stated that BTCV has nine bat boxes for park, but IH said it was an unsuitable time to place them in the trees as it hasn’t been decided which ones will be removed.

The site survey states that a reptile and amphibian survey needs to be completed before work starts.

Action:   MB to research other methods of work to avoid dredging the lake and to ensure that an area suitable for reptiles is included in the proposal alongside a possible south-east plant area, he will email the current work proposals to IH, HS & CJ. MB will give HS the bat boxes for storage at park. Reptile survey needs to be organised. Tree survey of island needs to be completed. (WHO will contact them?)

Model traffic area (3f)
HLF bid states that this area will be restored. IH noted that in meadow, north of model traffic area, that there was a foxtail grass. This area is being considered as a potential ‘natural play’ site.
The Friends had installed wildlife interpretation boards for the lake and Lordship Wood. DM suggested more such boards around throughout the park, IH noted that interpretation boards in the park should have more detailed information.

Action: Current meadow area, north of model traffic area, to be retained.

Masterplan states that all hedges will remain.

All group disagreed with site survey that stated that the hedges were poor habitat for wildlife and also noted that the survey wasn’t very detailed with an incomplete list of species. Several gaps in hedges were noted. IH noted that the hedges running from the houses on the south boundary to the lake were good wildlife corridors for bats.

Action:   Parks team to plant new shrubs in gaps in hedges. Site survey should be updated?  (WHO will contact them?)

Western grassland corridor
HS stated that area between western footpath and park boundary should be maintained as a grassland meadow, as formerly discussed and agreed. IH stated that wavy edges would be good for microhabitats.

Action:   Parks team to maintain area as grassland area with wavy edges.

Lordship Woodland (9)
Group stated that woodland was recreated 20 years ago as a conservation area, should be maintained for Tottenham indigenous species only and that any other species such as dogwood should be removed.
DM stated that CBA suggested removing shrubs along western side of woodland to open up the corridor of plane trees and that CBS stated that the shrubs were affecting the trees. The group disagreed with this and agreed that the shrubs were important for wildlife and the footprint of the woodland and should remain as part of it. But thinning and pruning was needed in order to keep some sightlines open.

IH stated some of the glade areas created last autumn needed to be enlarged to allow in more light.

Action:  Friends group will remove dogwood, and further clear some of the glades (including considering some tree removal), during conservation activity on 31 May.  Shrubs around plane trees to be retained (but thinned) if they’re not damaging to the trees. Friends to find the advice by former LBH conservation officer David Bevan regarding tree species for the wood.

Lighting & The Environment Centre
The group agreed that all footpath lights should be directional and use lighting friendly to bats and wildlife.
The masterplan states that new lights will be installed for The Environment Centre, MB suggested only having the above type of lights on during night-time centre activities, IH wondered if these lights could be controlled from The Environment Centre.

IH stated there should be no lighting in pond area.

Peter stated that it would be good to have swift/housemartin habitats in the eaves of the centre’s building.

Action:   Ensure lights are directional and wildlife-friendly. Environment Centre designers to research centre controlled lights and swift/housemartin habitats. (WHO?)

Other Areas
  There wasn’t enough time to visit other areas of the Rec, but many of the key themes from the above notes (eg regarding hedges, meadowland, trees, lighting etc) clearly apply throughout the Rec.

Sports Field:  In particular some thought could be given to valuing and enhancing the wildlife value of the areas of overgrown brambles at the north and north east areas of the formal sports field.

New River Channel:  The new channel will obviously have great potential for nature conservation.

Other points
Audit/Plan:  It was felt that a much more comprehensive wildlife audit/survey/action plan was needed.

Contractors:  There should be very specific instructions to all contractors working on the site to ensure maximum awareness and protection of wildlife sites and features during the works planned throughout the Rec in the next few years.

Report by M.Bury, BTCV (with contributions from Ian Holt and Dave Morris)