Commercial dog-walkers are making increasing use of Dulwich and Sydenham Hill Woods, to the detriment of the woods - and, sometimes, other dog walkers - and in breach of bye-laws.

The Dulwich Estate has asked society members to contact the estate office with any details of professional dog-walkers using the woods, so that they can be contacted and asked to stop. In response to a request from the society, it has also re-erected its notice at the Grange Lane entrance, which had disappeared, and is considering a suggestion that a separate, special notice should be put up, directed specifically at commercial dog-walking. The main notice states that this is against the bye-laws but is in small print and easily overlooked by a determined bye-law-breaker.

Two notices directed at commercial dog-walkers have also been erected in Sydenham Hill Wood, which is managed by the London Wildlife Trust and is a local nature reserve. One immediately went missing but is being replaced.

The problem is partly that for economic reasons many commercial dog-walkers take too many dogs out - sometimes eight or nine. Since many are not on a lead, they form impromptu "packs", cause trampling and disturbance and sometimes attack other dogs - at least one instance of a (non-professional) dog walker's pet being attacked by such a pack has been reported to the estate. Dog excreta, rarely picked up, is another increasing problem. Many people also feel it is wrong for a public space such as the woods, at least part of which is an important conservation site, to be used for commercial purposes.

The estate office can be contacted on 0208 299 5666. Members who employ dog walkers could also help by relaying these concerns and asking them not to use the woods. The estate says it hopes persuasion will work since court injunctions are costly and time-consuming.

David Nicholson-Lord
Trees & Wildlife Committees

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