What lives in Waterlow Park? Biodiversity survey launched

Sir David Attenborough at Waterlow Park in 2016, when he was honoured in a tree planting ceremony

Sir David Attenborough at Waterlow Park in 2016, when he was honoured in a tree planting ceremony by charity The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) as he celebrated his 90th year - Credit: PA

Volunteers are needed for a biodiversity survey in Waterlow Park that will determine how to improve the park’s wildlife, tree and plant growth.

The Friends of Waterlow Park is asking for help auditing the flora and fauna to inform a long-term biodiversity strategy. The survey will show which species are flourishing or faltering, and how to encourage biodiversity accordingly.

Ginnie Cumming, from the Friends of Waterlow Park, said: “I think there's probably an absence of bulbs - bluebells, snowdrops, primroses and so on - which could be remedied. 

A bee nosing around at Waterlow Park, Highgate

A bee nosing around at Waterlow Park - Credit: Ian Henghes

"There are many evergreen, dark green, glossy shrubs, which only produce berries, but possibly much fewer shrubs, which produce flowers for insect pollinators.

“We're all worried about the decline of insect populations and rewilding is part of that. We're also concerned with monitoring the use of the park by mammals and other wildlife, although I suspect there are less foxes here than there are on the heath, or hedgehogs as another example, but we'll find out about that as well.”

Waterlow Park's Upper Pond

Waterlow Park's Upper Pond - Credit: Fiona Brown

Ginnie thinks the survey might reveal a need to change mowing patterns and plant more native shrubs. The group has already decided to remove some trees by the nature reserve, which were shading the water and preventing wildlife from developing.

“It was very lacking in biodiversity and rather neglected,” she said.

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There is potential to create an enclosed space in the shrubbery in the northeast corner of the park to be used as an outdoor classroom, and the park’s 2021 survey revealed a great desire to repurpose the former aviary.

“That’s all for the future,” said Ginnie. “None of it will go ahead without asking people what they would like.

"So part of this project at the moment is to just find out how many people are interested in it.”

Wild flowers on the mound at Waterlow Park

Wild flowers on the mound at Waterlow Park - Credit: Marcia Beer

Volunteers do not need to help regularly and the group would be self organising. No previous experience is necessary, as volunteers can use plant finder apps or guidebooks to identify and document species. 

The group has had interest from allotment holders, but Ginnie said everyone is welcome.

“A bit of botanical surveying, I can tell you, is a lot of fun,” she said. “It's just amazing what you could find in a square metre of ground really.”

Visit www.waterlowpark.org.uk