Date Published 18 January 2010

A major project is underway to promote jobs and transform an area of rundown woodland into a wildlife park for protected species. A scheme has begun in Thamesmead, off Waldrist Way, to plant more than 1100 trees and 3200 shrubs in an area that has seen historic unlawful horse grazing, vandalism and partial water logging during wet periods. It forms part of Veridion Park, set in 67 acres, which will bring 680,000 sq ft of new commercial space in a deprived area, creating jobs and attracting businesses. The work is being carried out by developer Tilfen Land, backed by Bexley Council and the Forestry Commission. Bernie Harverson, the arboriculturist advising Tilfen Land, said `The impoverished nature of this woodland, together with historic damage, has limited its longevity and diminished its overall value to wildlife generally. "By improving the woodland health and structure, biodiversity will be significantly increased and the habitat for bats, water voles and other wildlife species much improved". Felling of the dead and dying trees will be completed out of the bird-nesting season. New ditches and ponds will be put in to extend the existing dyke network, providing additional habitats for the endangered water vole. The phased replacement of the existing woodland over a 15 year period with more appropriate native species will complete its revitalisation and ensure its longevity as an area of borough importance for nature conservation. It follows the completion, in November 2009 of ecological work on land at Norman Road in Erith. It saw the excavation of a new section of ditch and the reprofiling of the existing Belvedere ditch to provide additional habitat suitable for local wildlife, together with the creation of a seasonal wetland and species-rich grassland. A barn owl box was also installed to provide additional nesting habitat for the barn owl pair that nest at the near-by Crossness Nature Reserve.