HEATHLAND in Stanmore that could provide a colourful habitat for unique flowers and insects will be restored to its vibrant Victorian heyday thanks to volunteers.
The 2.2hectare open space, known as Bluebell Heath and situated off Furze Path towards the north-east corner of Stanmore Common, has been invaded by woodland during the last 20 years and now consists of a series of isolated glades.
Harrow Nature Conservation Forum, a sub-committee of Harrow Heritage Trust, wants to find 20 volunteers clear back the tree encroachment and sow locally collected seeds using a £38,400 Heritage Lottery Fund grant topped up with a little extra from the trust itself and a £100 donation from an appreciative dog walker.
Project manager and forum chairman Stephen Bolsover said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.
"With their help we will restore a beautiful heath to both raise the spirits of the human visitors and support a wealth of rare plants and animals."
Visitors to what remains of the heathland can spot a glimpse of the purple flowers of gorse, the yellow of tormentil and the blue of Devil's-bit scabious that used to flourish in the early 19th Century.
Work to Bluebell Heath between May and September will restore 1.5 hectares to acid grassland in order to form a single open area with the reclaimed New Heath lying immediately to the west. Large mature trees - mostly oak and Scot’s pine - will be left in an open parkland setting.
Some of the volunteers will be trained in botanical surveying, pesticide spraying and chainsaw maintenance and use for tree feeling with part of the grant and they will eventually run guided tours to the area.
Martin Verden, chairman of Harrow Heritage Trust, said: "We are proud of the work which Harrow Nature Conservation Forum does in many open spaces around the borough, and this grant from Heritage Lottery Fund is further evidence of their success under the leadership of Stephen Bolsover.
"We are very impressed with this project and were pleased to grant £3,000 in support."
Sue Bowers, head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “HLF is delighted to support this project that will help to reclaim the original habitat of the common, to the benefit of both the wildlife and the visiting public."
An advisory group to oversee the project will be set up and the Harrow Nature Conservation Forum is looking for representatives from all groups who use the common, such as dog walkers and bird watchers, to sit on it.
Meanwhile the activities at Bluebell Heath will be documented for an exhibition at the project's conclusion at Harrow Museum and Heritage Centre in Pinner View, Harrow.
* To get involved, e-mail email@example.com or write to 40 Walton Drive, Harrow, HA1 4XA.