We have a schedule of events for the year ahead. Join us on one of our practical days which offer the chance to learn new skills and get your hands dirty doing conservation tasks. Come and learn more about species in the park on our wildlife walks or become part of the Friends Committee which meets to discuss the functioning of the group.

FoSNCP hold a practical workday on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month to undertake conservation projects within the park.

At present we’re meeting at the council compound – the locked gates right by the tramline, on the vehicle access road at 10 AM. We usually finish around midday and enjoy a hot drink & biscuits.

Training and tools are provided. Please wear clothes suitable for outdoor activity and the weather, bring your own gloves if you have them.

We recommend sturdy footwear. Activities are subject to change at short notice.

If you would like to register to join us, please contact us by email – We can then let you know if we can offer you a space on a Saturday morning.


For previous years – see the archive!

January 14th 2023

On a very soggy and windy day, our group of volunteers headed towards a little wooded area between the mound and the car park. This area has a wonderful display of primroses in early spring but they need room to breathe. As we cleared the overgrown brambles, we soon discovered the primroses. Hopefully, by clearing a wider area, this will allow the primroses to spread and develop into new clumps.

January 28th 2023

For today’s workday, one group of volunteers made their way to the woodland area next to the cemetery path. We’ve reported on our conservation work in this area over a number of years in previous reports. We’ve planted whips of native species every year for the last 6 years and just over a year ago, London Wildlife Trust planted more substantial trees. Both FOSNCP and The Conservation Volunteers have created dead hedges bordering this developing woodland area. The dead hedges are made using hazel stakes mainly coppiced from Kings Wood and coppiced branches and vegetation collected from around SNCP. The dead hedges protect the trees from  ‘over enthusiastic’ mowing and provide a natural habitat for wildlife important to the biodiversity of our nature reserve. To continue the work on the hedges, our volunteers dragged willow branches from a pile recently coppiced by TCV. It was heavy work dragging them from one side of the woodland to the other and then adding them to the hedge. Our efforts were rewarded when a vole was spotted moving in to its new home.

Our other group of volunteers continued the work of The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) creating low willow hurdle fences along part of the Seasonal Path. We planted hedging whips in this area in December & we wanted to provide some protection to this planting. We also want to protect one of the meadows from so many dogs running through the hedge area, bordering the meadow.

The short stakes had been coppiced from Kings Wood by TCV & donated to SNCP. The willow binders were coppiced in SNCP by our volunteers & dragged to the Seasonal Path. It was good to be able to explain our activity to people walking past and to also explain about our new hedgerow, incorporating hawthorn, blackthorn, dogwood, dog rose & hazel.

February 11th 2023

Our volunteers had three different tasks to choose from today. One group were extending and completing the dead hedge which we had been working on at the last workday. This dead hedge provides a natural barrier to protect our young and newly planted trees in the woodland adjacent to the cemetery path. Hazel stakes coppiced from Kings Wood, Sanderstead were sawn and then points chopped into them to provide the vertical supports for the hedge. We hammered these into the ground and then filled the gaps with woody cuttings coppiced from SNCP. Dead wood is great for biodiversity because it is teeming with life and provides a natural hiding place for wildlife.  In the same area, two volunteers were tasked with planting two more oak trees. These had come from Portland Road Community Garden. The garden already has three oak trees so rather than overcrowding the site, the volunteers generously donated them to SNCP where they will continue to thrive.
The final task was a return to the dead hedge at the ‘beach’ area of the lake. Many volunteer hours have previously been spent building this fence as detailed in previous workday reports. Sadly there are a minority of park users who seem intent on destroying our hard work so some repair work had to be done. We also affixed some notices to the dead hedge to explain and educate on why it was there.
In addition to our Saturday workday, on Thursday 9th February, three volunteers led by Ian, cleared vegetation from the island in the middle of the lake. The island is an important and safe habitat for birds to nest. However, they need space to land and the island has become very overgrown. It can only be accessed by boat and now there is no longer a warden, it is difficult to transport the boat to the lake. We had to arrange for one of Croydon Council’s grounds maintenance team to transport the boat to the lake so that the clearance work could be carried out on the island. There was too much to finish in one go so more will need to be done on another day before the birds start nesting there.

February 16th 2023

An extra workday for volunteers Ashley and Sundeep led by Ian to finish off clearing vegetation on the island in the middle of the lake. They took the boat out and Ian used a brush cutter to cut scallop shapes into the vegetation while Ashley and Sundeep cut back other areas and cleared the arisings. The scallop shaped indentations will provide shelter and protection for birds when they are ready to nest on the island and the other cleared areas will give them space to land.
TCV were also working in SNCP on Wednesday and Thursday. Shaun Waddell, Senior Ranger at Ashtead Common, was teaching them the traditional craft of hedge laying. Hedge laying is a countryside craft which has been practised for hundreds of years as a way of managing hedgerows. Hedgerows are vital to wildlife as a refuge, source of food and as green corridors to help them move through the landscape. A laid hedge was used to create a stock proof barrier; it also creates a dense habitat and promotes new growth rejuvenating the hedge. The volunteers, expertly led by Shaun, laid a new hedge at the far end of the ‘seasonal’ path. Some FoSNCP volunteers also attended, learning new skills to pass on to other volunteers so more hedge laying can be done in SNCP.

March 11th 2023

FoSNCP worked in conjunction with TCV and LWT (London Wildlife Trust) on tree planting this week finishing with our workday today. As part of their Great North Wood project, LWT donated a mixture of mature trees and smaller trees/whips (rowan, beech, hornbeam among them) to add to those they donated and planted last year. Volunteers from LWT, TCV and FoSNCP braved the snow on Wednesday to plant some of them in the meadow next to the cemetery. On Thursday, more poplars were added to the area on the other side of the path next to the lake. The other tree planting project took place in areas around the brook next to Harrington Road. As a designated Local Nature Reserve, SNCP must have areas set aside where wildlife can thrive undisturbed. As explained below, the brook always was one of these areas and we hope that it will be once again. To protect the area and create a natural habitat, we planted hedgerow trees such as hawthorn and dogwood roses in staggered double and triple rows. 

We continued the work of The Conservation Volunteers, creating a fence along the path edge, where new hedging trees were planted. The idea is to ‘reclaim the brook’ by Harrington Road tram stop for the wildlife in our nature reserve. In years gone by it was possible to see ducks and even water rail in this area. Sadly we don’t see them here any longer as the brook is frequently accessed by people and dogs. The fence is a ‘Found Fence’ constructed from branches & other dead wood that we found lying in the vicinity.

March 25th 2023

We were a bit low on numbers today so rather than splitting into two groups for different tasks, we concentrated on the one. We returned to the meadow near the cemetery path where our growing woodland can be found. We had to reposition some of our recently planted trees where the clay soil was retaining too much water. We also finished securing the remaining trees to posts with hessian ties – essential given the gusts blowing that day. On our way back, we passed by the entrance to the wetlands where a very large tree had fallen across the path following the recent strong winds. We managed to saw the branches off to clear the path and put the cuttings in our dead hedge at the ‘beach’ edge of the lake. The main trunk is still lying across the stream but that is a job for the Council.

April 8th 2023

Despite the long bank holiday weekend, we were fortunate to have around 14 volunteers which meant we could cover several tasks. Two groups had the job of collecting and preparing logs ready for TCV’s work in SNCP next week. Making use of fallen trees, we measured and cut logs to size. TCV will use them to make log walls as natural barriers around the lake as well as creating habitats for bugs and insects.

A few of us were tasked with clearing some of the brambles that were beginning to overhang the path which runs alongside the tram track, towards Harrington Road. We were careful to just snip off the overhanging vegetation as we were aware that it is bird nesting season. It was apparent that walkers had already begun to break off overhanging brambles & we wanted to tackle this task before the growing season got too far advanced.

April 22nd 2023

Our volunteers split into three groups today for three different tasks. The first task was to open up the path that runs directly from the tram track crossing to the playground. This is a very pleasant route because the trees and bushes form an arch over the path but it has become overgrown and limited the height for those walking through. We used loppers and a long handled saw to cut it all back. A second group of volunteers went in search of giant hogweed near the Harrington Road brook and along the cemetery. Having found a couple of clumps of this invasive species, great care was taken to remove it.

Our third task was to create ‘halos’ around the newly planted poplar trees. Poplar trees had been planted by London Wildlife Trust in the green triangle area near to the reed bed. The vegetation had grown up tall around these trees and needed to be cut back to give the trees a better chance of surviving. We used shears, loppers and forks to cut back and where possible dig up the roots of the vegetation surrounding the trees, to form a bare one metre halo. The vegetation we removed was mostly cow parsley and nettles.
Once we had finished clearing around the poplar trees, we went to the Seasonal Path to clear vegetation from around the hedging whips that we planted in December 2022 and December 2021. It was great to see that so many of the whips were thriving. We cleared away any vegetation that was choking the little whips and again found that there was a lot of cow parsley (which seems to be very abundant in the park).

May 13th 2023

For the workday on 13 May our volunteers undertook two tasks.
The first task was path widening along the seasonal path & along the path near the reed bed. The second task was to continue improvement works on the dead hedge around the reed bed in order to protect this sensitive habitat.

May 27th 2023

Today we had four tasks, although we only had time to complete three of them.
The first was to install a new bench which had been built by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) during the week. We had received a ‘mini-grant’ from local community group We Love SE25 & this enabled us to purchase wood to make four new benches. The first bench was installed near to the reed bed along the narrow path that accesses one of the viewing platforms.
The second task was to build bench number two, which was carried out in the compound. One 4.8m length is required to make one bench & this was sawn & screwed together, ready to be installed on our next workday.
The third task was to clear the undergrowth from around the hedging whips & larger shrubs that had been planted towards Harrington Road. These had been planted to form a new hedge. We removed cow parsley, nettles & brambles. It was good to see that some of these were doing really well, with Guelder Rose in flower. We also spotted hazel, field maple & hawthorn.
The fourth task was to continue clearing the ‘Cemetery Path’, which TCV had begun during the week. However we’ll have to continue TCV’s work on our next workday as we didn’t have enough time today!

June 10th 2023

For our workday today, we carried on with tasks started two weeks ago & made a good start on widening the ‘Cemetery Path’ that we didn’t have time for in May.
Four of us installed another bench, we had built this one during our last workday. This was installed along the main path, just beyond the ‘Pitch & Putt’. The ground here was incredibly hard & it took alot of effort to get the bench installed! There hasn’t been a bench here for some months as the last one had collapsed. Another group carried on making new benches, we now have two more ready to install at our next workday.
The final group of four, took shears, loppers & secateurs to the ‘Cemetery Path’ where vegetation was cut back in order to widen the path. The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) had begun this task during their last workdays in SNCP in May, starting from the Elmers End side. We started from the Harrington Road end, with the intention of meeting up with the length that TCV cleared previously. Mostly we cleared nettles, brambles, cow parsley & some tall grasses.

June 24th 2023

Another boiling hot day saw us seeking as much shade as possible along the wetlands path for one of today’s tasks. This popular walking route tends to get very overgrown through the summer months and those nettles don’t make it a very pleasant experience. Whilst cutting back the vegetation, we had to make way several times for people walking through proving  the task was a worthwhile one.
Our other task was to install another bench, constructed by our volunteers, this time beside the path that runs adjacent to the wetlands path.  It replaces the broken one nearby and will be a welcome resting point as demonstrated by our volunteers in the attached photos. 

July 8th 2023

One of our annual tasks is to do maintenance work on the culvert that fills the lake. After you walk past the ‘beach’ area of the lake and turn left, you cross the bridge over the culvert. The pool is visible on the right where water flows from another culvert into it and then through to the lake. The flow of water becomes inhibited by the build up of silt in the concrete culvert caused by overhanging branches and fallen leaves. This is a particularly messy task and we are grateful to The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) for the loan of their chest waders so that we can get stuck in (literally – the silt is quite thick!). The lake is full of water at the moment but having cut back and cleared the vegetation blocking both sides of the culvert, the water will flow more easily when the water levels get low.

Our other task was to cut back some of the tree branches that were hanging over the pathway that runs alongside ‘Goals’. The reason for this is to enable the farmer with his tractor (who is paid for by the Council), to cut back the vegetation along the edges of the path, without missing out a length because of the overhanging branches. We cut back Elder on one side of the path, pulling the arisings into a dead end that runs up to a dead hedge along the lake. This formed a perfect additional barrier to strengthen the dead hedge & create a large ‘bug pile.’ On the other side of the path, on the bank of the culvert, we cut back overhanging Willow branches & these were piled on the opposite bank of the culvert. 
Four of our volunteers also worked in the thick mud & silt of two culverts, cutting back vegetation that would one day die & fall into the water, blocking the flow of water. There is already alot of vegetation in the base of these culverts & this will need to be removed during a future workday.

July 22nd 2023

One group of volunteers (those who had remembered their wellies!) headed to the stream adjacent to Goals on the Elmers End side of the park. This stream is very seasonal in terms of water levels and usually dry in summer but the mud is thick and sticky, hence the need for wellies. The lack of water gives us the opportunity to cut back overgrown vegetation and rake up leaves and bits of wood from the bed of the stream before the autumn rains start to fill it up. The reason for doing this is to prevent as much silt forming as possible caused by the leaves and wood mulching down. As well as cutting back vegetation from the sides, two volunteers, wearing hard hats, worked together using the pole saw to cut overhanging branches with the purpose of letting in more light as well as reducing the chance of leaves falling into the stream.  You can see by the photos what a difference this morning’s work made.

Six of us headed down the path that runs alongside the tram track from Harrington Road to near the compound. It is quite a winding path in places & so it is good for as clear a sight-line as possible to see people coming towards you from round a bend. Clear lines of sight are safer for walkers & cyclists. Indeed a couple of fast moving cyclists met us, so we explained what we were doing & they promised to slow down. Another walker commented about how much she hated stinging nettles – we cut down plenty of these! We worked to reduce the height of the vegetation growing alongside the path, using shears & loppers. Previously a farmer was regularly trimming back the vegetation but now that the tree branches are overhanging in places, he no longer does this task.

August 12th 2023

A few weeks ago, a willow tree fell down across the path near the ‘beach’ area of the lake and was cleared by Parkrun as it was blocking their route. Today‘s workday task was to cut up the tree and use the logs and branches to construct a hibernaculum. This is a safe habitat for hibernating creatures such as frogs and toads to spend the winter. We filled the hibernaculum with the brash (the foliage left behind from the willow tree). We packed the rest of the brash into our dead hedge which acts as a barrier to protect the wildlife on the lake as well as a habitat for bugs and other small creatures.

August 28th 2023

Another tree had fallen across a path, this time alongside the stream that runs adjacent to the wetlands. Volunteers from Parkrun had cleared it away from the path so we made it one of our workday tasks to make the best use of the fallen tree. Two volunteers were tasked with sawing the trunk into logs which will be used to construct log walls for beetles. Some that we and TCV have already constructed can be seen alongside one of the paths near the lake. The rest of the branches and brash were cut up to make another hibernaculum near Route 666 which runs alongside the tram track. As explained in the previous workday report, a hibernaculum provides a safe place for frogs and toads over winter. By creating them at intervals along Route 666, we can also fill them with the arisings when we cut back the vegetation along the path.
Five of us were tasked with cutting back another overgrown path. This grassy path was just around the corner from the Council compound. We were asked to cut back the overhanging tree branches and scrub – including hogweed, nettles and brambles, by 2 – 3 metres on each side, in the hopes that we may not have to carry out the same task next year. We formed the arisings into a large pile within the tree line & compacted it by treading on it. We hope that some bugs or other creatures might find it useful for winter shelter. Although we were away from water, we noticed a large brown dragonfly in the vicinity, flying around us (a Brown Hawker? – we didn’t get a good look as it was constantly flying).
When we had finished the cutting back, we sharpened and oiled our tools, removing rust from blades of the shears with sandpaper and sharpening the edges with sharpening tools. We also sharpened the loppers, they’ll be much improved for the next workday!

September 9th 2023

A very hot day meant choosing workday tasks that we could do in the shade. We can’t do our jobs efficiently without well-maintained tools so three of us were tasked with cleaning and sharpening them.
The other group of five volunteers made their way to the path that runs along the tram track near the Westgate Road entrance. A lot of work has been done here by TCV and FoSNCP to cut back overhanging branches to allow space for a grass-cutting vehicle and improve the sight lines along the path.  Normally the arisings from such work are left away from the path in piles to rot down. This can look a little untidy so our volunteers constructed another hibernaculum as detailed in previous workday reports. By filling these hibernacula with brash, they provide a safe hiding place for wildlife over winter.

September 23rd 2023

Continuing our work of the last few weeks, we finished the last of our hibernacula for a while. We returned to the area on the other side of the tram track near the Westgate Road entrance to the park. We prepared stakes made from hazel coppiced at Littleheath Woods by cutting them to size and using an axe to point the ends. After putting the stakes into the ground, we filled our hibernacula with the rest of the arisings from the path maintenance work. We now have three hibernacula in this area providing safe places for hibernating creatures as well as tidy storage areas for the arisings.

October 14th 2023

The first task for the main group of volunteers was to head to the lake to finish off the task begun by TCV on their last workday in SNCP.  Some months ago, TCV created a dead hedge to protect the reed bed at the lake. They recently cut back the willow in the reed bed and added the arisings to the hedge as well as extending the length of the hedge.  More hazel stakes were needed to complete this so some volunteers from FoSNCP collected them from Kingswood in Selsdon and brought them to SNCP. They then completed the dead hedge with the extra stakes and processed the coppiced willow to create a barrier to protect the reed bed and the birds that nest there such as Reed warblers, Sedge warblers and Water rail. The dead hedge will also provide a habitat for insects.
A smaller group of three volunteers filled the last of the hibernacula mentioned in previous reports.

October 28th 2023

We continued the work started by The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) when they were in SNCP this week. The blackthorn bushes between the seasonal path and the La Motes meadow haven’t been cut back for some years. As such, they are beginning to encroach on the meadow which is a habitat for ground nesting birds. Cutting back the old blackthorn will also encourage new growth where butterflies can lay their eggs. In fact, at the TCV workday, we were delighted to discover the eggs of the rare Brown Hairstreak butterfly on some young blackthorn as well as what we deduced to be a Ruby Tiger Moth caterpillar.
Earlier in the year, TCV laid a living hedge at the top end of the seasonal path. Between TCV and the Friends, we would like to continue that living hedge further down. For this reason, we left about a metre of blackthorn next to the path to lay into the hedge. The corridor created by cutting back the old blackthorn will let in light to encourage growth in the living hedge. We haven’t cut the blackthorn back completely but have left a barrier to protect wildlife in the meadow until after we have laid the living hedge. As extra protection, we will create a dead hedge from the blackthorn arisings until the living hedge has grown.

November 11th 2023

Another sunny autumnal day saw our volunteers head towards the seasonal path to continue the task from the last workday. As explained in that report, we have been cutting back blackthorn at the upper end of the seasonal path. This work is to prepare for the hedge laying at a future workday. We finished creating the ‘corridor’ between the blackthorn along the seasonal path that will be laid for the hedge and the blackthorn next to the wetlands which has been left to protect the wildlife. This corridor will let in light to the living hedge. We discovered a nest in one of the blackthorn bushes so made sure that we left that untouched.
Four of our volunteers did more work on the dead hedge next to the reedbed at the lake. We extended this dead hedge at a previous workday but ran out of coppiced material to fill it. Our volunteers redistributed material from further along the hedge to ensure it provides full protection for our wildlife in and around the lake.

November 23rd 2023

As we were only a small group today and 2 of the volunteers were selling our calendar, the remaining 5 carried out some more path restoration. Just a small area that frequently turns into a muddy puddle. Hopefully, we have built it up enough to prevent the puddle in the future. 
There was a bit of dancing  involved as we tampered the road stone into place!

December 9th 2023

Our volunteers continued work started by TCV (The Conservation Volunteers) on their workdays in SNCP. The location was the Elmers End side of the lake and the task was coppicing willow. Coppicing is a way of managing woodland going back many years. Originally used to provide a ready supply of firewood and timber, nowadays it is used as a way of increasing biodiversity in the woodland by creating a range of habitats for wildlife that thrive there. Coppicing can rejuvenate trees and help them live longer as well as letting in light to encourage growth of woodland flowers. We used the arisings from the coppiced wood  to build up and repair the dead hedge around that side of the lake. The aim is to protect the wildlife on the lake by deterring dogs and illegal fishermen from getting to the water’s edge.