Annual destruction of wild flowers in Wanstead Park

Once again, the emerging wildfowers by the east end of Perch Pond have been strimmed to ground level. In mid-May, just as some were flowering and some were ready to come into flower. Just as the damselflies that use them as perches were hatching a few feet away. Just as people visiting Wanstead Park because they think it is a nice place could have walked past and thought how pretty it looked.

wp perch pond 140520 70709artNo home for wildlife; no colour for peopleThis is the annual strim – or one of them. It is because of the Reservoirs Act: “No herbal vegetation that would do serious harm to the dam that retains the waters of the Perch Pond may be allowed to come into flower. Any such delicate vegetation must be cut down just as it is flowering or - alternatively or as well – it is seeding”.

Is that what the Act states? Or is that the interpretation of the Conservators of Epping Forest in their wisdom and within their remit to “preserve the natural aspect” of the Forest? Wanstead Park is not – of course – a “natural” part of the Forest. It is a man-made and managed environment and the management of the Park relating to the wildflowers at the east end of the Perch Pond means that each year we loose the full beauty of them, and the wildlife looses an important part of its habitat.

wp pp flowers 080707 60699artVegetation, sanctuary and a bit of colourI have been going on about this for years. Why is it not possible to do this strimming, which I believe is required so that woody shrubs and trees don't grow up so that their roots undermine the embankment, at a different time? For example, what about earlier in the year before the flowering has begun, say early March, and/or later in the year after the flowers and seeds are over, say late September?

It is possibly to do with manpower. The Epping Forest arm of the City of London Corporation, the Conservators of Epping Forest, has much more to manage than just Wanstead Park; and on the whole they do a good job of it. It's just that in this little part that I know and particularly care about, it has not been found possible, even after pointing out the problem to the Ecology People and to discussing on-site the issue with the Head of Operations for Epping Forest earlier this year (see here), provisions can't be made to adjust things slightly.

Show me to the nearest brick wall.

Paul Ferris, 21st May, 2014