Fourth Reserve - Save Gorne Wood

It might be easy to miss Gorne Wood, nestled as it is between suburban houses and a rail line in south-east London. But that would be a real shame as this wood is a truly special place. It’s an extremely rare living remnant of the Great North Wood, where 400-year-old trees, ancient hedgerows and protected and endangered species, including hedgehogs and toads and can still be found roaming. 

In recent years the woods were sold to private ownership, local people were shut out including the local Scouts who had used the woods for almost 100 years, the site is now being degraded and damaged and there is a risk it will be lost forever.

But a group of local residents and those passionate about pockets of wild in the UK capital, are fighting hard to get this space back for the local community. The Fourth Reserve Foundation, a registered charity, was set up in 2017 to protect the Forest Hill to New Cross Railway Corridor, the following year they transformed a section of this green corridor into the Buckthorne Cutting Nature Reserve and they’ve been successfully running the project for the last five years.

They provide environmental education to twelve local schools, provide sanctuary space to vulnerable groups and enhance habitats to increase biodiversity including providing a safe release site for rescued birds. The Fourth Reserve Foundation now aims to secure the almost three-acre Gorne Wood by raising £100K to fund a compulsory purchase and keep it for the community.

With the money raised, they’ll aim to re-wild the community section of the woodland to primarily provide outdoor education, and plan tress and restore the meadow. They’ll ensure the oldest section of the woodland will be protected in accordance with the guidance for Ancient Woodland management, as a quiet space to preserve ancient features of the landscape. 

There’s a real urgency to their work, as in recent years, the neglected woods have seen regular fires and increased fly tipping. And the community are concerned that if the site is not saved via a Compulsory Purchase Order there is a serious risk that the site will be irreversibly damaged and lost to the community forever.

The project is supported by the London Wildlife Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE London) among many others.

Alice Roberts, Head of Green Space Campaigns for CPRE tells us: “London only has half the green space it needs for a population of its size, so spaces like this one are incredibly valuable. Despite a long history of public use, the community is in danger of losing access to a unique green space.” 

Councillor Paul Bell, Cabinet Member for Planning and Housing in Lewisham adds: “We are very supportive of this piece of land. I also want to put on the record my thanks to you (Fourth Reserve) and the community for fighting for this piece of land and rest assured the council is fully behind you and will do whatever we can within the financial envelope we have available to us."

Lewisham Council doesn't have the money to fund the purchase, so it’s been over to the community to raise the funds. The team at Fourth Reserve have worked with Localgiving from the very start as one of their trustees, Anna-MariaCahalane-MacGuinness tells us: “Fourth Reserve have used Localgiving as our fundraising platform since we began in 2017. With it being a low cost and easy to use platform it’s been ideal for our project and our community, and the money raised through it has been crucial in helping us work towards our aims.”

Help support this ancient and important community woodland (deadline for current campaign is 30th January) and donate here.