Re-wild the Waterworks Meadow!
I'm Caroline and I have been campaigning to keep Lea Marshes 'open and green' since 2012. I was one of the founding members of the Save Leyton Marsh campaign which expanded its campaigning remit and became Save Lea Marshes in 2013. We are a grassroots (or rather 'marshroots') collective with no official funding.
I am writing to you as we need your help to protect and enhance the Waterworks Meadow in East London as a re-wilded site for Nature. We want to collect all the data we can about the wildlife that calls this site home. To do this, we need funding so we can commission ecologists to carry out extensive surveys of the area.
We would like to use the findings from our surveys to re-design the site to maximise its potential for wildlife and experience wildness on our doorsteps.
This year, Save Lea Marshes successfully campaigned alongside local residents to keep the Waterworks Meadow open to the public and stop a large scale commercial festival there every summer. The LVRPA have indicated that, due to the refusal of Waltham Forest Council to allow the site to host large scale events, they are interested in examining the potential for an ecological management regime instead. However, there has been a reduction in the precept, money gathered from councils to fund the Park. They are therefore interested in maximising revenue streams and there is the danger that further attempts will be made to use the meadow as an event site or sell it off for private development.
In contrast, we would very much like a positive wildlife-friendly future for the meadow. It is already home to numerous species including kingfisher, Cetti's warbler, little owl and grass snake but has huge potential as a biodiversity hotspot; it is adjacent to the Waterworks Nature Reserve and borders the River Lea, which connects the site to other parts of the marshes, including Walthamstow Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the Lee Valley Special Protection Area (SPA). We could bring back species that have been spotted in the past such as water voles, slow worms, weasels and many more!
Re-wilding, letting natural processes drive ecological rejuvenation, is one of the most helpful, rewarding and cost-effective ways we can restore our natural world. We want to make sure it is carried out in a way that suits existing species, enhances habitat for declining and rare species, basing our plans on the best evidence we can get.
We have already gathered a group of ecologists , including a bat specialist, the Chair of the Ancient Tree Forum (an invertebrate and tree specialist), an ornithologist, a reptile expert and a botanist together to begin surveying the meadow and Nature Reserve. But we need your help to fund them! Professional surveys will be recognised by local government, professional bodies and the landowner, the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA). We have discovered how important robust ecological data is in both defending the land and advocating for the best future of the wildlife. Save Lea Marshes were denied access to LVRPA’s ecological data while opposing the Waterworks Festival and much of the data that does exist is outdated or limited in scope.
We need your help to fund professional, paid-for surveys that are truly independent and bring us closer to our goal of re-wilding the Waterworks Meadow for the benefit of the community and to protect nationally important, rare and protected species.
The surveys will be carried out from June 2020 to June 2021 in order to provide longitudinal data across the seasons.
Our survey data will be shared with Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston to aid the transformation of the Regents Canal into a wildlife corridor to other sites.
We hope that you are able to give whatever amount you can afford to assure a future for the meadow which maintains full public access and benefits people and wildlife.
N.B. All funds will be received into the Save Lea Marshes bank account (handled by our treasurer Victoria Sholund) and all money received will be paid directly to our ecologists.
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