Project Reedbed

As part of our Love the Lea campaign, Thames21 has commissioned a study into the use of  reedbeds along the Lee (or Lea) Navigation to improve water quality, boost the biodiversity value of the area and improve green space.

The independent report, funded by the Environment Agency, reveals huge potential for reedbeds on the river to boost biodiversity, reduce the effects of pollution and improve the area for social and amenity value within the lower Lee* Catchment. Reedbeds are regarded as one of the most important ecosystems on earth and are sometimes referred to as ‘the kidney of the landscape’ for their important role in filtering pollutants and maintaining fresh water health.

Existing reedbeds with potential for expansion and improvement, and sites suitable for new plantings on the Navigation within the M25 were identified with the help of volunteer surveyor teams in the second half of 2012.

The report makes a clear and strong case for the wide implementation of reedbeds for the revitalisation of urban rivers. We hope that it may provide the framework and impetus for this affordable, multi-beneficial and sustainable measure to improve the region for wildlife and the many communities that could benefit from it.

Reedbeds are a priority UK Biodiversity Action Plan habitat, and have been proven to work as a powerful absorbent for nitrates, solid waste and phosphates, which run high in the Navigation. This function is particularly significant as phosphate over-loading is a direct contributor to the Lee’s failing health status under the European Water Framework Directive.

The report highlights 60 potential sites along the Lee Navigation within the M25 suitable for reedbed creation. In most instances, the suggested sites could be cultivated with relative ease with the help of volunteers and a suitable management plan.

Thames21 looks forward to working with you a wide range of partners to turn this report into practical action.

View the Thames21 Lee Navigation Reedbed Report
View the Report Appendix

For more information, contact Ben Fenton /07920 230970

*A note on the spelling: The Lea Navigation and Lee Navigation are both widely used and accepted spellings which refer to the same waterway. The report uses the spelling Lee, though in general Thames21 makes use of the Lea spelling based on community sentiment.