The Gorne Wood campaign

Campaigning to save and restore the ancient Gorne Woods

Gorne Wood in Lewisham, South East London has been designated by Natural England as Ancient Woodland. As such, it is the closest Ancient Woodland to the City of London. Sadly, during 20 years of property developer ownership the site has fallen in to neglect.

2022 marked 100 years since this woodland at the end of Courtrai Road was declared a park for the communities of Deptford and Lewisham by the Metropolitan Mayor Charles Henry Dodd and Sir Philip Dawson, MP. The creation of The Dandy Fifth Park was in recognition of the the local scout troop who did their bit for the war effort by patrolling the railway during World War I.

The first scout hut was built using money donated by the local community. It was bombed in World War II, and has survived two fires in the years since. Each time the communities of Brockley and Honor Oak Park rallied round to help restore it.

The Fourth Reserve Foundation is campaigning to return the site back to community use and to restore the woodland areas.

Phase 1 – The charity launched a massive fundraising campaign to buy back the land from the property developer. This might have to happen via a Lewisham Council-led compulsory purchase. As of January 2023 we reached the fundraising milestone of GBP100,000 to support this purchase. This purchase process may now take up to two years to complete.

Phase 2 – We will undo the damage Gorne Wood has suffered over decades, planting trees, and restoring ponds and meadow habitats. We plan to remove the derelict Scout hut, currently a dangerous eyesore on the site, instead creating more environmentally sympathetic structures that will work with the landscape, and which people can use for activities, courses and events connected to the reserve’s work. 

We will continue to work with volunteers to manage the existing reserve and Gorne Wood to enhance its biodiversity, and to protect it for future generations.

Why won’t all of this site always be publicly accessible?

Gorne Wood is historically made up of two sections: the area around the Scout hut and the rest of Gorne Wood, which is comparatively undisturbed ancient woodland. The two parts are separated by an old boundary line.
Phase II proposals mean that the area around the existing Scout hut, fronting onto Courtrai Road will be more openly accessible for community use, for therapeutic, educational and leisure activities, promoting nature and wellbeing.
However, the area away from Courtrai Road along the railway line will be a haven for nature and occasionally accessible on open days and volunteering workdays, in the same way that Buckthorne Nature Reserve is today.

One of the most nature depleted countries in the world

Britain is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world and more than one in seven native species face extinction and more than 40% are in decline. This is why nature reserves are so important to protect our native species. Supporting your local nature reserve is one way you can speak up for nature by supporting wilder spaces on your doorstep. See also

As Sir David Attenborough says:
“The truth is, every one of us, no matter who we are, or where we live, can and must play a part in restoring nature.”

A huge demand for nature-related activities

We’re ambitious to increase the educational work we already do, and for which there is huge demand – connecting with local schools, and providing a resource for forest schools, youth groups and Scouts. With both the Buckthorne Nature Reserve and the adjacent Gorne Woods we will be able to expand the opportunities for others to use them for therapeutic, educational and leisure activities, such as refugee women’s groups, and activities like wildlife photography classes, writing, painting and theatre workshops.

The fundraising to support Phase 2 is ongoing.

You can support this campaign in two ways today. By making a donation and by adding your name to the campaign supporters list.