We are fighting to make the Camberwell Cemeteries nature reserves, with respect for the dead and their memorials and woods, nature and green spaces for the living.
There are many reasons to save the Camberwell Cemeteries and make them nature reserves like Nunhead, Highgate and others.
These are 100 acres of nature and green space, including 10 (was 12) acres of woods, in polluted inner London.
Ecologists and community groups have recorded bats, reptiles, stag beetles, hedgehogs and many other species within the range of woodland, meadows, brownfield and other habitats.
Southwark has no Conservation Management Plans (CMPs) agreed for either cemetery, even though these are long overdue.
CMPs must be developed in conjunction with community groups, and would have highlighed the Council's intention to remove the Woodland Level Tree Preservation Order and clear acres of trees.
CMPs would also have highlighted the heritage and structure of the graves of the two cemeteries, including CWGC war graves, along with the many archaeological, environmental, ecological, social and heritage issues associated with Southwark's development plans.
In April 2017, Southwark's Cemetery Strategy Stakeholder Group voted unanimously:
1) against any further felling in Camberwell Old or New Cemeteries and
2) for Southwark to stop development and prepare Conservation Management Plans for both cemeteries with community groups as required.
Cllr Ian Wingfield, chairing the meeting, bizarrely - and undemocratically - stated the vote was not to be minuted.
We recorded the meeting, a copy of the audio recording is available on request:
Camberwell Old Cemetery
In autumn 2017, Southwark intends to come in with the chainsaws again and start clearing acres more 'to progress projects' for burial plots in the glades over tens of thousands of people buried beneath their roots.
This appears to be another attempt to avoid applying to the public and the Diocese of Southwark for planning permission, as these woods are the heart of the rich natural heritage and beauty of Camberwell Old Cemetery.
Camberwell Old Cemetery is a Grade 1 Site of Importance for Nature Conservation on approximately 30 acres of Metropolitan Open Land. Southwark highlighted its high environmental quality as a primary argument when applying to include these two cemeteries in the London Green Chain Walk extension.
The Chair of Nunhead Cemetery Ron Woollacott in his excellent book 'Camberwell Old Cemetery - London's Lost Valhalla' describes perfectly the sublime quality and combination of the natural habitat and the graves, history and heritage.
Indeed, the London Wildlife Trust used to manage Camberwell Old Cemetery woods as a nature reserve.
Until recently, twelve acres of secondary maturing native broadleaf woodland created a biodiverse, species-rich environment better than many other nature reserves.
In September 2015, Southwark Council removed the Woodland Level Tree Preservation Order which covered the whole cemetery. Now only around 5% of its trees are protected.
In February 2016, Southwark cleared two acres of these woods on Area Z for 700 burial plots, against huge public opposition.
Camberwell New Cemetery
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www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
Saving the natural beauty of the Camberwell Cemeteries