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AN ACCLAIMED environmental scientist has condemned Southwark Council plans for Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries - saying the proposals will create a “green desert” with less biodiversity than “astroturf”.


Insect expert Dr Richard ‘Bugman’ Jones also said the council’s plans looked more like a 'sales pitch' and said leaving the existing trees would be better for the natural environment.


The entomologist made his comments as a guest on comedian Lewis Schaffer’s show on Resonance FM.


Dr Jones said: "I think the wilderness of Nunhead cemetery is fantastic.”


He said Southwark Council’s proposals would endanger wildlife and destroy a much loved urban wilderness.


“I saw their PDFs of the proposals they've got.  I think the cynic in me would say I don't actually believe what are in those photographs. That's a sales pitch. It's the same sales pitch that you see when someone builds a massive great block of flats and they say 'We're going to make it really green and look at these lovely pictures. We've got ornamental gardens – bushes - trees in the background'. The reality is nothing like that.”


Dr Jones said while the council proposals involve planting trees they are not in accordance with best environmental practice.


“The most important thing they mustn't do is make it into mown lawn. Mown grass with a few neat headstones - that's a green desert – Astroturf would be more biodiverse than that.”


“I have a problem with people planting trees in inappropriate places. An inappropriate place is a meadow because you need a variety."


I'm constantly asked by people’ “Trees are good, aren't they'” and people want to plant trees. But I'm afraid, I'm always trying to stop people planting trees in places they want to plant trees, not cemeteries - not in wooded cemeteries – it's a great habitat already.”


More than 3,000 people have signed a petition opposing Southwark Council’s proposals to pull down trees in a Grade I SINC and create space for 6,000 new burial plots.    


The Save Southwark Woods campaign has been backed by Bianca Jagger, comedian Micky Flanagan, folk singer Peggy Seeger and psychotherapist Susie Orbach.


Time Out CEO Tim Arthur, a fellow guest on Lewis Schaffer’s Nunhead American Radio show also voiced his support for Save Southwark Woods.  


“I am pro keeping the trees, I tell you.”

Camberwell Old Cemetery woods by Save Southwark Woods


Astroturf more bio-diverse than tended cemeteries, jokes top bug man

25th February 2015