Major new woodlands and wetlands partnership begins

Project will create large-scale improvement in Enfield’s rivers

Thames21 will embark on a major new woodland and wetlands creation project in partnership with Enfield Council in 2021. 

Restoring Enfield’s Rivers and Connecting Communities is one of the first environmental projects awarded a grant from the government’s £80 million Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

£679, 000 has been awarded in order to deliver large-scale ecological improvement in Enfield’s rivers and create sixty hectares of new woodland (100,000 new trees). At least 20 small ponds and wetlands will be created to improve wildlife habitats, increase biodiversity and reduce flooding. These new woodlands and wetlands (rural sustainable urban drainage schemes or SuDs) will help London meet the challenges of climate change by slowing the flow of water and treating pollution before it reaches the river. The trees will also help prevent soil erosion. These impacts will mean healthier rivers in Enfield and in the wider Lea Valley. The trees will also play a key role in reducing flood risk, which will protect thousands of local homes downstream.

‘We’re inspired by the scale and ambition of this partnership initiative with Enfield Council,’ said Debbie Leach, Thames21 CEO. ‘Working closely with them, we will demonstrate the impact connecting with nature can have on everyone’s wellbeing. The London Borough of Enfield and Thames21 are serious custodians of the natural environment and together we can improve the health of our rivers and the health of the communities living near them.’

Local communities will have the chance to be involved in much of the tree and wetland planting. They will also have opportunities to learn how to monitor the benefits of new and existing wetlands and to look after these spaces over the long term. The aim is to establish long-term relationships between Enfield communities and the nature on their doorsteps. The programme will also help to tackle health inequalities, especially the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Enfield’s most deprived wards, through nature prescribing.

The project will run throughout 2021 and continue until March 2022. The fund is being delivered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Natural England and the Environment Agency.

‘This project uses nature-based solutions (woodland and wetlands) to heal the wider environment and particularly the rivers of Enfield and the Lea Valley,’ said John Bryden, Thames21’s Head of Improving Rivers. ‘We will monitor the impacts of these solutions and use the evidence to inform local, regional and national policies and practice, to ensure the lessons can be replicated to benefit all rivers and local communities.’

Tree planting has already begun with hundreds of volunteers participating in COVID-secure, socially-distanced events with Thames21. Sign up to volunteer and find out more

Defra announced on Thursday 10 December grants between £62,000 and £3.8 million, to help create and retain thousands of green jobs. The projects, spread across England, will see 800,000 trees planted and protected landscapes and damaged habitats such as moorlands, wetlands and forests restored, alongside wider conservation work. The projects will also support environmental education and connecting people with green spaces.