Volunteers help Thames21 plant 1,000 metres of new reedbeds in the Lea Navigation

Date of release: 04 September 2017

Thames21 has reached a landmark of planting 1,000 metres of reedbeds into the Lea Navigation, after a recent vote to decide new sites resulted in 250 metres alone being placed into the river by volunteers.

The online poll earlier this year by Thames21, London’s leading waterways charity, attracted 700 votes, whittling down nine possible sites to the most popular five sites across as many boroughs – Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Haringey, Enfield and Waltham Forest. 

Thames21 then recruited volunteers who have now installed reedbeds on not just five but seven of the sites. The charity is now running free training for residents to maintain them in the future.

This project is part of Thames21’s ‘Love the Lea’ programme, which undertakes physical improvements and public education to improve the water quality of the severely polluted rivers of the Lea Catchment. The aim is to create new habitats for wildlife, such as offering spawning ground for fish, and to improve the water quality.

Ben Fenton, Thames21’s Love the Lea Programme Manager, said: “We’re delighted that people have shown such enthusiasm for reedbeds, through voting and volunteering to help. We’re now offering free training on September 27, to give people the chance to learn the benefits of these plants and how to look after them in the future.”

Local resident Lorna Reith said: “I can see one of the new reedbeds from my balcony. It’s doing really well and is a constant reminder of the value of involving local residents in improving the water quality and general environment of our river. From voting on preferred locations to getting wet and muddy during installation residents have been key in making this project a success.”

Lea Valley Park’s Conservation Manager, Cath Patrick, said: “The new reedbeds installed will have a really positive impact on the River Lea within the Lee Valley Regional Park.  Not only will they provide new habitats for a range of wildlife and help tackle water pollution, they really improve the visual appearance of the area, softening the otherwise hard bank. Another key success of the project is the community involvement at all stages, from choosing the locations, installing the reedbeds and their long-term maintenance.  It’s a great example of local community action to benefit all users – wildlife and people alike!” 

For more information about the training, visit www.thames21org.uk/training or email Ben Fenton at Ben.Fenton@thames21.org.uk

The reedbed project has been funded by Thames Water Community Investment Programme, and carried out in partnership with the Environment Agency and Lea Valley Regional Park. The locations for the sites have been approved by the Canal and River Trust and the Environment Agency.

Rosemary Waugh, corporate responsibility manager, Thames Water, said: “We were delighted to fund the Community Reedbed project, as our community investment fund is for projects that both engage our customers and enhance the environment, delivered by trusted partners.  Ben and the team have done a wonderful job on achieving the outcomes of the project.”

The seven most recent reedbed sites are as follows: 

  • Navigation Road, Bromley By Bow, E3 3TG Tower Hamlets
  • Mabley Green, Homerton Road, Homerton E9 5FA Hackney
  • Essex Wharf, Lea Bridge Road, Clapton, E5 9HP Waltham Forest
  • Riverside Close, Clapton, E5 9SU Hackney
  • Kessock Close, Tottenham, N17 9PW Haringey
  • Bream Close, Tottenham, N17 9DQ Haringey
  • Pickett’s Lock, Edmonton, N9 0AT Enfield


Notes for editors

About Thames21

Thames21 is an environmental charity putting healthy rivers back at the heart of community life. Through environmental improvements, education, research and advocacy efforts, Thames21 is inspiring and influencing effective and lasting change by working hand-in-hand with communities to deliver tangible and measurable improvements for urban rivers.

www.thames21.org.uk | Registered Charity No. 1103997