SHORTLY after its establishment, Natural Goldsworth Park issued a Vision Statement setting out a number of aspirations enhancing the Meadow and woodland and celebrating Slocock Nursery’s heritage. These aspirations were reviewed in 2021 and the Review’s outcome is recorded in documents elsewhere on this site.
The original proposal to convert the Meadow into a wildflower meadow was found to be impractical. Soil conditions and the dominance of perennial grasses mitigate against sustaining a wildflower meadow in its commonly accepted sense. Creating suitable conditions for this would necessitate extensive and very expensive alteration of soil conditions and effective destruction of the existing habitat with little probability of common wildflowers proving self-sustaining without constant human intervention.
Following discussions with Woking Borough Council, it has been agreed that efforts will focus on extending the abundance of the 103 wildflower species now present across the Meadow, and introducing some new species that suit the relatively fertile soil conditions. It is hoped that with the Council’s support, resident volunteers will undertake annual wildflower seeding across the Meadow over a period of 5 years.
After discussion with Woking Borough Council, the number of footpaths across the Meadow was reduced in 2021. Previously the meadow had been split into numerous relatively small segments by paths. It is hoped the substantially larger grass areas will be more attractive to wildlife.
Natural Goldsworth Park is working with Woking Borough Council and Thames Water who own the woodland to implement a coordinated management strategy for their respective areas. A key aspect will be identifying opportunities for local residents to volunteer their assistance in realising the strategy’s goals. These may include:
• Controlling the presence of the invasive Cherry Laurel and other non-native species
• Removing the existing Cherry Laurel screen planting along the north side of the Lake which has been the source of the plant’s incursion into the woods and replacing with native species e.g. hazel, hawthorn
• Improving the abundance and diversity of ground level vegetation within the woods, particularly in the open areas, to provide cover for reptiles, amphibians and small mammals
• In conjunction with tree maintenance activities, creating log piles and other wildlife habitats using the resulting waste materials
• Regular clearance of litter
• As knowledge of the habitat develops, providing information boards describing resident plant, insect, bird and animal species present in the woods
In 2020, Thames Water created a new walk through the south woodland area and provided woodchip surfacing over a couple of the minor paths. At the time of writing it is not intended to create any further paths in order to minimise human disturbance of wildlife in the woods.
Over time it is intended to expand the plant and wildlife surveys into other parts of Goldsworth Park.
Demand for extending the recreational facilities in the designated recreational area is recognised, and they will be supported by NGP where future proposals will not adversely affect the Meadow and woodland habitats.
As of June 2021, proposals likely to affect the Meadow include refurbishing the BMX track, extending the playground and provision of a new skateboard park. We look forward to participating in discussions about these with other stakeholders.