Unigate Wood Local Nature Reserve is a medium-sized area of woodland, grassland and scrub habitat in Streatham that has a high wildlife and recreational value.
The site was once part of a large farm originally owned and run by Curtis Brothers Dairy Farm, before it then became part of Unigate Dairies, hence its present name. Curtis Brothers used to manage the fields that surrounded Unigate Wood and Valley Road as pasture for herds of dairy cows so that they had a supply of fresh milk.
Unigate Wood Local Nature Reserve may have originally been part of a much larger area of ancient woodland, known as the ‘Great North Wood’, but this was probably enclosed and cleared before the end of the 18th Century. It lies close to the site of Well House, built around 1800 and which became the second ‘Streatham Spa’.
A wet area in the northern part of the woods suggest a spring and possibly the site of the original spa. During winter and after heavy rainfall the spring becomes active and water flows through the woods towards Valley Road.
Unigate Wood Local Nature Reserve is ‘secondary deciduous woodland’, which is a very valuable wildlife habitat in Lambeth, and contains many examples of mature and semi-mature trees originally native to Britain like ash, oak and hawthorn. It also contains species not originally native to Britain, some of which might be descendants of trees planted in the grounds of the original spa gardens, such as grey and black poplar, horse chestnut, pear, plum and cherry laurel.
It is rich in birdlife like woodpeckers, blackbirds, song thrush, greenfinch, robin, and wren, and there are also areas of grassland and scrub which support butterflies and other invertebrates, and important for nesting and feeding birds. Grey squirrels and foxes frequent the wooded areas and grasslands, and the site is used by bats and stag beetles, both of which are legally protected.
Unigate Wood Local Nature Reserve is managed for its wildlife interest and as an educational and volunteering resource for schools and residents.
It is also a Borough "Site of Importance for Nature Conservation" (or SINC) for the London Borough of Lambeth, in recognition of its importance not just for wildlife, but also for people living in both Lambeth and London to enjoy access to nature.
Declaration as a Local Nature Reserve 2022
The London Borough of Lambeth has designated Unigate Wood as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) under powers vested in it through Sections 19 and 21 of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. It was formally declared a LNR on 10th March 2022, and is one of three LNRs in Lambeth.
Other useful information
Friends of Unigate Woods - email@example.com
Creating a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) - Local Nature Reserve
The Great North Wood Project - Great North Wood