Walthamstow Wetlands: Europe’s largest urban wetland reserve

Walthamstow Wetlands: Europe’s largest urban wetland reserve

Walthamstow Wetlands was officially opened to the public on 9 November 2017. It is Europe’s largest urban wetland nature reserve, and is located within 15 minutes of Central London.

The project has been led by Waltham Forest Council and Thames Water. The vision has been to reconnect people and wildlife by opening up the reserve to the public and improving it for both people and wildlife. The Wetlands forms part of the Lee Valley Special Protection Area (SPA), which is of international importance for its wintering populations of gadwall and shoveler, and for its population of breeding and wintering bittern. Due to its designated status, and the fact that the site has had restricted access for over 150 years, detailed consideration of the potential impacts of the projects on birds and other wildlife was required to inform the planning application.

BSG Ecology has been involved in the project for seven years (to date). Our initial role was to design and implement bird surveys aimed at identifying key areas of the site for SPA species. This informed site design and mitigation (which has included various visitor management measures including seasonal path closures and dedicated wardening), and informed a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) for the project. Following planning permission for the project being received, BSG’s role has changed to undertaking monitoring of impacts of increased recreational pressure on waterfowl using the site.  To date, mitigation appears to be fully effective, and enhancements designed to increase the value of the reservoirs to some species are also starting to bear fruit.

This has been an interesting and very exciting project to be involved in, and we (represented by Peter Newbold of our Oxford office) were delighted to attend the opening event. It has been a pleasure to see the project take shape, and it is likely to provide both a significant educational resource and a haven for wildlife for the foreseeable future.

For a more detailed summary of the project please click on link below:

Walthamstow Wetlands: Ornithological Survey, Design Inputs and HRA Support – Project Profile

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