In order to encourage the return of the House Sparrow whose population is under threat, along with other wild birds two meadow areas were established in Waterlow Park in 2009. The project is for 3 years. In the first year we didn't have the vegetation establishment in the large meadow area near Swains Lane gate that we hoped for, because it was so dry when the seed was sown. However, we are hopeful this year for significant increase in flowering, so its appearance will change. It will be mown to a height of 10cm in April and then cut again in late August and then left until next year, when the process begins again. This will allow summer flowering and provide food for birds and bats. Signage will be re-erected as these were stolen last year. The roping off is a temporary measure and the public will have full access to the larger meadow area when plant growth is sufficiently established.
The development of a meadow is not an instant process, and with proper management, it will become more flower rich over time. Nature does take time to establish. The meadow has the benefit of being a resource local school children can use for education purposes and school visits will take place in the near future, it will bring pleasure to many as it will attract more and varied birds and butterflies into the park.
There is a shift in Parks management nationally towards encouraging biodiversity, and indeed the Local Authority has a Duty to take biodiversity into account. The meadows are extremely well received at public talks, and guided visits around the park. It is a biodiversity aim to increase the numbers of these meadows throughout Camden. We have recently seen house sparrows in the Park, and this is the first record of such, and a very positive sign.
Richard Harris MSc, BSc
Nature Conservation Manager, London Borough of Camden
Read more about the Meadow Areas and sparrows project