London’s third National Nature Reserve (NNR) will be officially declared later this month during a ceremony in Croydon, Natural England announced on 10 July 2019.
South London Downs, a 417-hectare site along the border of Croydon and Surrey with stunning views across south London, will be the second largest NNR in London after Richmond Park.
Jointly managed by Croydon Council and the City of London Corporation, the new NNR brings together 152.5 ha of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for nature, including the rare flower-rich chalk downland of Riddlesdown, Farthing Downs and Happy Valley, with non-SSSI sites of value to wildlife. These include Coulsdon Common, Kenley Common, Hawkhirst, New Hill and Sanderstead to Whyteleafe Countryside Area.
The new NNR will be at the heart of recovering nature across South London, improving and connecting areas that will benefit wildlife and people. It seeks to enhance the management of the area for wildlife, while creating a site where people can enjoy, learn and engage with the natural world. With its location on the urban fringe, the NNR opens up opportunities for recreation and access to nature for the 385,000 Croydon residents and beyond.
The public are invited to celebrate the declaration at the ‘South London Downs Discovery Day’ on 25 July at Farthing Downs, Ditches Lane, Coulsdon CR5 1DA from 13:00-17:00, as part of the National Park City Festival. Activities will include guided walks, meet the sheep, citizen science, outdoor yoga and other nature activities for all the family.
A declaration ceremony will be taking place at 15:00, involving speeches from Marian Spain, interim Chief Executive of Natural England; Councillor Oliver Lewis, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport at Croydon Council; and Graeme Doshi-Smith, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee.
“I’m delighted the diverse and unique landscape around Happy Valley has been recognised as a new National Nature Reserve.
“The South London Downs Discovery Day is set to be a memorable event and I look forward to welcoming the community to the day.
“There will be wide range of fun free activities with something for everyone to enjoy.”
Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport
Marian Spain, interim Chief Executive of Natural England, said: “I am delighted that we can now formally declare the South London Downs as London’s third National Nature Reserve. The new NNR will make a huge difference to South London’s wildlife and the lives of Londoners by giving them access to some of the country’s very best wildlife in beautiful open spaces right on their doorsteps, demonstrating why London is indeed a National Park City.
“The declaration ceremony at Farthing Downs on 25 July will be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the beauty of the NNR and its importance for nature with the local community. It will also give us the opportunity to celebrate the hard work of our partners who have helped to make this a reality.”
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.”
Notes for Editors:
About National Nature Reserves
England’s 224 National Nature Reserves (NNRs) form part of a UK-wide network of nature reserves covering England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Natural England manages 143 of these NNRs to ensure that our finest wildlife and geological sites are protected, conserved and enhanced for present and future generations. These features are of national and often international importance, and many NNRs are important for study and research. From Lindisfarne in Northumberland to The Lizard in Cornwall, and from the Suffolk Coast in East Anglia to the Stiperstones in Shropshire – NNRs are the very best places to experience the natural world at first hand.
The new South London Downs National Nature Reserve will be the third in Greater London (Ruislip Woods (declared in 1997) and Richmond Park (declared in 2000) being the other two).
About Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is one of the country’s very best wildlife and/or geological sites. There are over 4,100 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in England, covering around 8% of the country’s land area. Many SSSIs are also National Nature Reserves (NNRs) or Local Nature Reserves (LNRs).
About Natural England
Natural England is the government’s advisor on the natural environment. Established in 2006, our work is focused on enhancing England’s wildlife and landscapes and maximising the benefits they bring to the public.
About the London Borough of Croydon
Newly recognised as an ‘Approved Body’ with powers to manage the National Nature Reserve, Croydon Council manages 127 parks and green spaces across the borough.
The London Borough of Croydon’s sites joining the new NNR are Happy Valley, Hawkhirst and the Sanderstead to Whyteleafe Countryside Area.
About City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving city, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK.
The City Corporation’s green spaces joining the new National Nature Reserve are Riddlesdown, Farthing Downs, New Hill, Coulsdon Common and Kenley Common.
The City Corporation protects and conserves 18 green spaces in London and south east England and over 200 smaller ones in the Square Mile. They include important wildlife habitats, sites of Special Scientific Interest and National Nature Reserves. They are protected from being built on by special legislation. Most of its sites, which are run as charitable trusts, are run at little or no cost to the communities that they serve. They are funded by over £29million a year from the City of London Corporation, together with donations, sponsorship, grants and income generated on site. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk.