The Friends

Littleheath Woods are owned by Croydon Council but are looked after on a voluntary basis by the Friends of Littleheath Woods.

The Friends of Littleheath Woods was founded in 1995 with the aim of maintaining the woods for the benefit of plants and wildlife living in the woods and for the benefit of the public visiting the woods. The Friends group achieves these aims through holding weekly working parties every Tuesday morning and raising funds to pay for tools and materials needed to carry out this work.

The Friends hold an annual general meeting, which is open to the public, and bi-monthly committee meetings to plan on-going work. More details about future plans for the woods can be found in the Management Plan.

Membership

Membership of the Friends group is open to anyone wishing to support our work. Membership is currently £5 per year per household – this is usually collected at the AGM or through the Chairman of the Friends group (see contacts page). All membership money and donations are used directly to support our work.


Weekly Working Parties

Work Parties are held every Tuesday morning throughout the year. There are jobs to suit everyone whatever their ability or capability.

One of the main tasks of the winter is coppicing - mainly hazel. This involves sawing through the stems at low level, trimming using loppers and secateurs, sorting and storing usable wood and burning the twigs (brush).


The working party clearing Hogweed in Fallen Oak Field


Pond maintenance is good fun though somewhat messy. It involves clearing all kinds of debris using a grappling hook or wading into shallow water. It may be necessary to repair banks or cut back overhanging vegetation.

Building a new bench and table

We like to keep the paths clear for the benefit of walkers by cutting back undergrowth, and, in the autumn, raking leaves aside to allow the paths to dry out.

We try to improve muddy paths by digging drainage channels and/or adding permeable materials. Fallen trees or branches across paths are cut up and removed either by hand or by our chainsaw operatives.


Where areas have been cleared of old, damaged or diseased trees by Croydon’s foresters, the Friends replant with native species. Markers are placed and those handy with a spade will dig the holes whilst others follow behind planting the saplings.

Sometimes, understory trees such as hazel are planted in suitable gaps between canopy trees. Recently, protective tubes have been put around some saplings to prevent deer damage.
     Tree Planting


Where necessary, certain invasive species such as holly and bramble need to be controlled. In newly planted areas bramble and other rampant plants are cut back using a sickle or uprooted by pulling or using a grubber. Holly is ‘skirted’ using loppers or secateurs to prevent layering. Sometimes, layered branches need to be dug out with a grubbing mattock. Non-native species such as laurel or sycamore are cut down or dug out with a mattock, depending on size.

Coffee Break

When coppicing, clearing fallen branches and trees or removing invasive/non-native species there is often the opportunity to cut up and bag logs for firewood or stack in situ to provide valuable invertebrate habitat.

From time to time some of our volunteers construct seats using fallen or felled chestnut.

There is always a break around mid-morning when helpers take time to sit and have a friendly chat while taking refreshment they bring with them. In the autumn this is supplemented with chestnuts from the woods which have been roasted on the bonfire.

Though the work can be tiring, it is satisfying and enjoyable.

Committee

The Friends of Littleheath Woods Committee Members are:

Ian Leggatt (Chairman)

Chris Hyde (Treasurer)

Ken Pauw

Shirley Shephard (Membership Secretary)

Brian Stone

Peter Underwood (Website)

Sean Walsh