The CREOS Summer Event took place in hot sunshine on Sunday July 8th. We enjoyed live music from Gregor Grant and his band 'All Shook Up', plus games, prizes and a raffle. The barbeques were working flat out as many people enjoyed their picnics in the meadow. Once again a successful event, and thanks to all the members of CREOS who helped to organise the day.
This year's AGM was held on Monday 21st May at the Hanley Tennis Club, attended by over 30 CREOS members. This year's guest speaker was Edward Milner, a professional ecologist, a patron of the Tree Trust for Haringey and a Spider Recorder for London. He gave a most interesting talk on 'The sex life of spiders', describing the diversity of spiders living in London and in the local open space around us, and then answered a wide range of questions from members.
Our chair, Glenys, gave a short talk summarising the main events and activities over the past year, and our treasurer, Julian, summarised our financial position which is healthy. The committee was re-elected with no changes. Afterwards members had the opportunity to socialise over a glass of wine. Our thanks to the Hanley Club for allowing us to hold the AGM in their clubhouse.
Our regular workdays are held on the third Sunday of the month, 11am to 1pm. All CREOS members are encouraged to come along and help keep our green space maintained and tidy. We hope to have the assistance of volunteers from TCV at workdays in April, June and October this year.
Does my biodiversity look big in this?
Readers of CREOS news this autumn will be aware of our commitment to maximise biodiversity across the CREOS land and you’ll be delighted to know we’ve started already! As you’ll know from our article biodiversity doesn’t just happen on its own and to give nature that helping hand we need to develop and work from a management plan. To get us on the starting blocks, London Wildlife Trusts’ Director of Conservation, Mathew Frith, visited our site in early November and we’re thrilled that he has agreed to work closely with us in the production of the management plan we need.
Encouragingly, he said that much of our woodland is in good condition and can be managed at relatively low cost. The area that is predominantly birch and hornbeam as you enter the Woodland Walk from Queen’s Wood has an understory of ivy, holly and bramble and as long as one species does not begin to dominate these are all excellent native plants supporting high level of biomass. Unfortunately, as we approach the end of the path there has been an invasion of cherry laurel which we should seek to remove as it is a ‘non-native invasive’ that takes up the niche of native plants like the bramble and holly which bring so much more biodiversity.
Mathew commented that the woodland ride running south from our main entrance off the allotment access road would be a good place to start a coppice, to achieve this we would need to selectively fell some of the more spindly mature ash and poplar to open up the canopy more, then we should look to plant 20 or so hazel saplings on either side of the path, when they reach about 2m in height we should divide each side into two areas and coppice one area in turn annually. This would give us a large range of stages of coppiced woodland, each supporting its own particular biomass, the combination creating much greater biodiversity.
He also noticed that we have what he described as ‘boundary oaks’ in the area surrounding the North London path. These, along with others clearly visible on the adjacent Shepherd’s Cot Trust land, we should seek to protect with individual TPOs (and we have started this process already), he advised that we should also inform the Ancient Tree Forum of their presence as, whilst these oaks are not what is termed ‘ancient’ yet, they will be well on their way and are part of the chain of priceless natural capital that ancient woodland is.
Where we can achieve most changes to positively affect biodiversity are on the fringes of our open spaces (the meadow, the school field and the car parks and road verges). Here the practice of scalloping (clearing 10m wide shallow curves around the edge of an open space) into the surrounding scrub and woodland fringe will give us areas that are taken right back to the start of the ecological succession process. A few scallops cut and then left to regenerate every year would create a patchwork of different stages of succession, and, similarly to coppicing, would massively increase biodiversity. It’s all about the shape of your ecotone apparently.
Mathew was very supportive of our plan to create a wildflower meadow and thought our hope to position it in the corner of the school field diagonally opposite the entrance from the lane at the end of Montenotte Road was excellent. All native wildflowers (including Michaelmas daisies for any plant snobs out there!) are brilliant for raising insect levels which is something of great current concern across Europe (see the Insects and Us article in the newsletter if you haven’t read it already). He suggested we should consider creating more opportunity for day round sunlight in the patch by selectively felling some of the younger poplars in the immediate vicinity – this feels like a good place to create an early scallop.
At Mathew’s suggestion the London Wildlife Trust will be returning to CREOS in the spring to begin the process of creating the management plan and we’d hope to have the plan written and fully supported by Haringey Council and Highgate Wood School by the end of summer ‘18. The plan will be published here on our website and will serve as a practical guide for our woodland workdays and for any conservation volunteer groups who want to come and help out. It is crucial for our members and indeed the public at large to understand the value of this area of nature and a management plan supported by the London Wildlife Trust and being actively carried out will demonstrate that the area has significant ecological value, this is a huge step towards the sustainability of the CREOS land into the future.
Alice Shaell, CREOS Committee, Nov 2017.
Japanese Knotweed Eradication
We have hopefully cleared the Japanese Knotweed from the north side of the Meadow, although it is persistent and may return. We have also found small pockets at other locations on the CREOS site and intend to treat those too in coming months. Please be aware that this is a highly invasive plant and if you come across it do not touch or interfere with it, as it can spread from the smallest fragment.
Many thanks to TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) for organising a number of volunteers from the Royal Bank of Scotland to help maintain the CREOS area. In particular they have been doing the heavy work of digging drainage channels and re-laying railway sleepers over the muddy section of the lower path. We have also done some work to improve the drainage in the meadow.