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Woodland Management

News: Tree Planting:   while we don't completely condemn tree planting, it's better than planting bricks, the methodology and reasons have to be considered. Natural regeneration is preferable as trees establish better root systems.

New tree planting in the park is on the one hand to remove the golf course appearance and the planting in straight lines probably only offends the human eye as being too orderly and unnatural. Time will determine that some trees dont survive and indeed natural regeneration will take place between rows 'if left alone'.

And that perhaps is the crux of the matter. The straight lines are for reasons of management meaning mowing between rows to suppress other plants and allowing for machinery for tree management which in the commercial timber market means felling or coppicing.

We hope that the tree planting is  to regenerate woodland and that any  intervention would leave natural regeneration as an additional benefit.

In the past mowing around trees has merely damaged them and the space between rows is not wide enough for tractor drawn mowers. Strimmers similarly do damage to trees by removing bark at soil level.

It will be at least 10 years until any commercial value is in the timber. Perhaps 100 until the first oaks have a commercial value  but we hope that is not the reason for planting.

Another reason for 'no intervention' is that machinery rolling over root systems compacts the soil and negatively effects the growing of the trees.   Botanical gardens such as Kew and Edinburgh now mulch around trees and dont mow under the canopy of the tree. Even mulch  can introduce diseases if coming from an area where tree disease is present. The trees essentially mulch themselves with dead leaves every autumn.  And as it seems it is park management practice to blow leaves off of grass areas into woodland then leaf mulching will be  quite extensive.

Some tree species exude a toxin around their roots to suppress competing plants i.e. oak. This can be seen at the gorse patch where one oak has suppressed all the gorse around it and stands almost in a clearing.  Some plants around trees such as grasses, mosses etc. act as a mulch keeping moisture in the soil by shading the ground at low level and gathering dew. 

The natural order of things can manage the environment better than any human methodology but we can't stop interfering.

end of news item


During the mid 90's the Beckenham Place Park Working Party was formed and one of the early achievements was the drawing up of a Management Plan for the environmental features of the Park.

Woodland management was among the significant subjects addressed. Certain areas were identified as being suitable for woodland management on a progressive basis. Invasive species were identified for control and possible eradication i.e. Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Sycamore and Holly.

As well as other groups the Friends have small working parties to thin Holly and coppice some sycamore as well as pull up Balsam before it sets seed in summer. Other work includes bramble control and removal of Rhododendron.

Groups such as BTCV and Lewisham Nature's Gym perform sycamore coppicing which opens up woodland canopy and permits other species to thrive.

The green waste composting scheme which had been established in the park is now discontinued as, sensibly, the disruption and damage caused by the site drew many complaints from park users.

The area has been planted with tree saplings while part of it remains  used as an area for material from within the park.  The amount of waste previously brought in from all over the Borough of Lewisham  was far too much for the area to accommodate and the heavy plant machinery used to process the material damaged paths and created quagmires in wet weather.

Wild Service Tree

Ancient Pollarded Oaks

Coppicing Sycamore. Often controversial