At the Joint Consultative Committee meeting in October 1977 Mr Garthwaite's report was considered and was dismissed, in the words of David Jones who represented the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association, 'as though it was the gibberings of a halfwit.'

Instead the City was set on its own policy. When asked about further plans the Committee was told there were no plans, yet in February, four months later, the City felled more than fifty trees in the Wood, clearing an area almost as large as a football pitch. They would be replaced with very small oak and hornbeam trees.

Immediately the Residents Association wrote an angry letter to Hugh Rossi, the local Member of Parliament, saying that the Association did not say that the policy [of regeneration] would not work, but that it was brutal and heavy-handed, wholly inappropriate in a highly used urban woodland of which there were so few. The Residents Association protested to the City of London and asked that the matter should be put on the agenda for the next meeting. They also attempted to have the control of the Wood moved from The City of London to Haringey Council.

The Chairman of the City of London Open Spaces Committee wrote to the Hampstead and Highgate Express stoutly defending the felling, saying that young oaks needed light if they were to grow and suffered badly by trampling, so an area to be reforested needed clearing and fencing. Without this the young trees would die. The Superintendentt of Highgate Wood was selecting the weakest parts of the wood for replanting. The size of the replacement areas and the care with which they were chosen was reflected by the fact that the National Trust estimated that it would take 300 years to replant the whole wood at the present rate of progress. This never ending conflict about the management of the Wood is in fact a sign of the importance of Highgate Wood to the local community and is a most healthy sign.

In 1983 a report on the biology and management of Highgate and Queens Woods 70, said that Highgate Woods were notable for mature and old hornbeams, uncommon Wild Service trees Sorhus torrnwnalis, Rowans and Midland Hawthorns. As the trees were no longer coppiced the hornbeams in particular had now developed into large trees in their own rights, a thing that would never have happened when the woods were 'managed' and wood was cut at regular intervals for fencing and fuel.

'The flora of Highgate Woods is very limited because of past management and public pressure. The heavy tramping of sections of Queen's Woods too may have given rise to the predominance of grasses. The flora of the stream valley in this wood however is still rich.' 'The woods are an oasis for other wild life. Foxes have bred, Green, Greater and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and Nuthatches are present the last three species breeding regularly here, regular summer visitors include Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap and the Butterflies include Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Comma, Painted Lady and Red Admirals. Occasional rarities are observed: a Golden Oriole was recorded in June 1983.'

The report then gives snaps of both King's Wood and Queen's Wood, divides them into sections and describes each in detail, with lists of trees and plants in each.

In Queen's Wood it was decided to cease all further deepening of the stream bed and the dumping of the spoil on the forest floor, as this would lower the water table. Queens Wood is the only site for a damp woodland-valley flora and this would be destroyed if the water table was lowered. Indeed it would be be best to raise the water table level, increasing the dampness and encouraging the growth of water-loving plants. A dam creating a small pond, or damp site, could be an attractive feature as well as diversifying the habitats and encouraging particular plants.

186

 

Ham& High, 14.3.1978

Highgate and Queen's Wood Biological Survey (undated but after 1870).

 

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