A special ceremony marked the unveiling of South London Downs as London’s newest National Nature Reserve (NNR) last week.
Dignitaries and members of the public gathered alongside Croydon Council, the City of London Corporation and Natural England at Farthing Downs – part of the
417-hectare South London Downs – on the hottest day of the year, amidst stunning views and a blaze of chalk downland flowers, in celebration of the capital’s second largest NNR.
The event saw the public invited to enjoy a range of activities including guided tours of the area, charcoal burning, outdoor yoga sessions and a chance to meet some of the sheep who call the downland their home.
Jointly managed by Croydon Council and the City of London Corporation the new partnership will improve land management in the area, boosting wildlife and creating a space for people to enjoy learning about and engaging with nature.
The site includes 152.5 hectares of Sites of Special Scientific Interest and opens up recreational opportunities for Croydon’s 385,000 residents and those living nearby.
“The new Natural Nature Reserve is an unparalleled public green space accessible to all of our residents. It was fantastic
to see people enjoying the activities and the landscape during the South London Downs Discovery Day.
“I’m proud Natural England have recognised the expertise and care Croydon has put into caring for the site. I’m looking forward to working with the City of London Corporation to preserve this iconic downland for future generations.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport
Marian Spain, interim Chief Executive of Natural England, said: “I would like to thank the City of London Corporation and the Croydon Council for their hard work, determination and vision which has made this NNR a reality.
“Our National Nature Reserves are at the heart of nature recovery. They are reservoirs for wildlife that can enhance and connect areas, beyond boundaries, to benefit wildlife and people. South London Downs NNR is central to nature recovery in South London. It will make a huge contribution to making London greener, healthier and wilder, demonstrating why London really is a National Park City.”
Graeme Doshi-Smith, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest & Commons Committee, said: “We are very proud to be part of London’s new National Nature Reserve – recognising the importance of these open spaces to nature and the environment.
“This site will be celebrated for years to come as an iconic natural sanctuary in South London, a haven for wildlife and a centre for learning.
“These precious sites are a natural resource for Londoners and visitors from across the UK. Together we are ensuring that they are protected and conserved for generations to come.”