Pole 3

Veterans and youngsters

Did you notice the large, veteran oak on your way to this pole? You can still see it if you look back on the path. This veteran, pollarded oak once marked the boundary of the field which is in the middle of the park and was once a crop field. The shape of the woodland in Forster Memorial Park is very distinctive, forming a square doughnut around the field. This is an assart, a type of woodland clearance employed in the past when woods were still of practical and financial value. This clearance took place in the Middle Ages or earlier. An assarted wood provided land for both crops and woodland products and the wood itself sheltered crops growing in the field.

This part of the woodland has some of the oldest features in the park, the pollarded oaks. These were probably once part of an old hedge or boundary feature and they were cut regularly above head height (i.e. pollarded) to provide a regular source of small timber for buildings, furniture, fences, firewood etc. Oaks are considered the most valuable tree species for native wildlife, and they can support hundreds of different species, including the Purple Hairstreak (Favonius quercus). This species is difficult to spot as they spend most of their time high up in the canopy.

If you look over the gate to the field, you will notice young trees supported by stakes that were planted in 2023 as part of the Rewild London project. These are elm trees resistant against Dutch elm disease which decimated most of the native elm population in the UK. The trees were planted to help another butterfly species, the White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) which is a protected, priority species and rare in London.

Our project also included the management of a blackthorn copse in the park (see location on map provided at Pole 1). This was done with the aim to help the Brown Hairstreak (Thecla betulae), another protected, priority species which relies on new growth of blackthorn to breed.

All three species have been recorded in the surrounding area so keep an eye out for the adults between July and September, you might spot them! If you do, please record your butterfly sightings via iRecord Butterflies developed by Butterfly Conservation. You can also find more information and photos of these butterflies and their caterpillars in the app.

Purple Hairstreak ©Gillian Thompson

White-letter Hairstreak © Iain Leach

Brown Hairstreak © Iain Leach

This trail was created as part of the Ancient Woodland Restoration project delivered by Lewisham Council in partnership with the Friends of Forster Memorial Park in 2023-24. The aim of the project was to improve the park both for biodiversity and the local community.

The project was part of the second round of the Rewild London Fund supported by the Mayor of London, in partnership with the London Wildlife Trust.

Click here to go to Pole 4