New scheme launches to rewild Thamesmead’s canals: prizes to be won

Date of release: 1 February 2018

Thamesmead residents are being given the chance to create five new green nature spots along the area’s canals.

Approximately 200m2 of new reedbeds, an equivalent area to over seven London Routemaster buses, will be installed at five sites as part of the Habitat Enhancement Project, run by Thames21 and London Wildlife Trust.

Residents can sign up to help build them this spring under the plans by registering at

Residents have between 1 February and 16 March to sign up.

And Thames21, London’s leading waterways charity, is also offering residents the exciting opportunity to train to learn to look after the reedbeds as they grow and flourish.

“When you’ve got a bunch of people together it’s really fun and easy to create a reedbed,” said Jess Becher, Thamesmead and River Cray Project Coordinator at Thames21. “Lots of people across London have loved helping make reedbeds on their stretch of river – so come on Thamesmead, let’s see if we can make ours the best!”


As a reward for signing up and helping to install the floating reedbeds, a prize draw will be held at each of the five sites on the day of installation, with some great prizes including Marks & Spencer vouchers and Elephant eco lunch boxes.  

“Reedbeds are a great benefit to a river”, said Jess Becher. “They provide habitat for wildlife, such as kingfishers and dragonflies, and fish spawn and shelter among the reedbed roots. They provide beautiful spaces for people to look at and get close to nature, and they remove pollutants from the water by taking them up through their roots.”

Petra Davies, manager of London Wildlife Trust’s Water for Wildlife project, said: “Impressive emperor dragonflies and secretive willow emerald damselflies are just some of the species our volunteers discovered on Thamesmead canals last summer. Floating reedbeds will attract more dragonflies and other invertebrates, and will encourage animals such as fish, wildfowl and kingfishers to return to the canals. This in turn will make the canals and waterways of Thamesmead much more attractive for residents.” 

The reedbed programme has received funding from the Mayor of London under the Greener City Fund. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Communities are crying out for high quality green space in their local areas, and I have listened to their great ideas. Whether it’s designing a new garden, planting trees or greening school playgrounds, these projects will transform local spaces, improve health and wellbeing and help clean up our toxic air – and young Londoners are getting involved too. I want London to become the UK’s first National Park City, with more than half the capital green by 2050 – and we’re already delivering. It’s vital that, as our capital continues to grow, all Londoners have access to open, green areas, and these projects will help make our city a greener, healthier place to live.”

Housing Association Peabody, which manages most of the housing in Thamesmead, is also supporting the reedbed work. “It is a fantastic opportunity to enhance one of Thamesmead’s greatest assets, its green spaces and waterways. We know that these are a key reason why people enjoy living in Thamesmead and want to make the best of them,” said Dr Phil Askew, Peabody Director of Landscape and Placemaking.

Thames21 has been supporting environmental work in Thamesmead since 2015 and last year installed a 20m2 reedbed, by Titmuss Avenue in Thamesmead, which is already flourishing and being foraged by coots and ducks.

The Habitat Enhancement Project continues this work, alongside Thames21’s existing Thamesmead canal programme, funded by the Enovert Community Trust, which creates new green spaces and runs clean-ups to make the canals more attractive for residents and wildlife.


Reedbeds will be installed at:  

Site 1: Harrow Canal, by Windrush Primary School, 1 Titmuss Avenue, SE28 8BQ

Site 2: Harrow Canal, Claridge Way, SE28

Site 3: Gallions Canal, Thamesmead Town Centre, Meadowford Close, SE28 8GF

Site 4: Crossway Canal, 28 Glendale Way, SE28 8HA

Site 5: Birchmere Lake, Lakeside Avenue, SE28

Sign up to build a reedbed here:


The Habitat Enhancement Project is run by Thames21, London’s leading waterways charity, and London Wildlife Trust. The project works with communities in South East London to improve the canals and lakes in Thamesmead. The project is funded by the Environment Agency, Greater London Authority, and Peabody Housing Association. 



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.


About floating reedbeds

In areas where it is difficult or not permitted to create reedbeds directly into the riverbed, floating reedbeds can be used. The roots of the plants hang down into the water, meaning an increased surface area for tackling pollution.

Read more about the Habitat Enhancement project and Thames21’s pre-existing project creating canalside habitats and cleaning up Thamesmead canals

Read more about Thames21’s reedbed planting work elsewhere in London

London Wildlife Trust, working in partnership with Thames21, Peabody, Environment Agency, Thamesmead Town Angling Club and Thamesmead & Marsh Dykes Catchment Improvement Group, has received grant funding from the Mayor of London for “Thamesmead Canal Habitat Improvement Project” as part of the Mayor’s Community Green Space Grants 2018. The Mayor has awarded £1.1 million in grants to 55 local projects to help create and improve green spaces.


About Community Green Space Grants

The Community Green Space Grants include projects to improve parks, design new green spaces, green school playgrounds, plant trees, install sustainable drainage and restore waterways. The grants are one element of the Mayor’s £9 million Greener City Fund, which will create and improve green spaces and encourage tree planting and management in London. See

Registered Charity No. 1103997

Media Contact

Kirsten Downer

Communications and campaigns officer at Thames21

07711 701 696