A new nature reserve for South East London
The Fourth Reserve is a Conservation Trust established in 2016 to safeguard the natural heritage of South East London’s New Cross to Forest Hill cutting. Started as a small ‘Friends Group’ living in the vicinity of the railway corridor, the group is concerned about one section of railway corridor in Crofton Park Ward and Brockley threatened with development under the ownership of a property developer.
The Fourth Reserve’s goal is to safeguard the corridor’s natural heritage for posterity with the designation of the entire cutting from Forest Hill to New Cross as a Statutory Nature Reserve.
As well as preserving the historical importance of the site, attaining Nature Reserve status for the new Buckthorne Road Reserve will also protect the wildlife - including bats, cuckoos, tawny owls, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and endangered species such as slow worms and hedgehogs - and their habitat which includes ancient reed beds.
The M112 New Cross to Forest Hill Railway Cutting’ (M112 SINC site) is a designated Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation (SMINC or SMI). It is one of London’s natural heritage assets and is a little-known, hidden treasure in the Borough of Lewisham. It is one of only three Metropolitan SINC sites in Lewisham Borough, the other two being Blackheath and Beckenham Place Park.
There are currently three Local Nature Reserves along the cutting, the New Cross Gate cutting which is managed by the London Wildlife Trust, the Garthorne Road cutting and the Devonshire Road cutting. The proposed fourth reserve at Buckthorne Road is the oldest section and a living remnant of the Great North Wood.
More information about the existing Reserves can be found on the Lewisham Council website. For more information about the New Cross Gate Cutting site cutting, visit the dedicated page on the London Wildlife Trust website.
This railway corridor is currently afforded a level of protection by planning policy. However different parts of the corridor have different pressures making it vulnerable to deterioration and eventual loss with it’s SINC status not obligating management to maintain its biodiversity interest.
The ecological value of this corridor has been recognised since the late 1980s and expert accounts have previously highlighted the benefits of designating the M112 corridor as a statutory Local Nature Reserve.
“The site itself has mature trees of species which are rarely found this near to central London and it is the best available in a wide area of surrounding suburbs”, noted David Dawson, Deputy Director of the London Ecology Unit in a 1990 report.