Project to rewild River Lea begins

A project to restore eroded river banks by the River Lea started last month, with volunteers from Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston joined by Hackney Council staff to plant new reed beds by the river and construct new log pile habitats for small mammals and invertebrates.

Aimed at mitigating long-standing upstream pollution, restoring wildlife habitats and improving the ecological functioning of the river, the project will also plant 520 trees, and introduce 4000 herbaceous plants, providing habitats for otters, bats, amphibians and a kingfisher family living by the river.

The new vegetation will help stabilise the eroding river banks and make it easier to remove trapped litter from the river, ensuring it does not flow downstream, form microplastics and pollute the sea.

The project has been made possible with funding from the Greater London Authority’s Grow Back Greener Fund, Hackney Council and Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. It was designed by Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston and will train volunteers from local community organisations to plant new vegetation by rivers, and help them learn about ecology. 

The River Lea is an oasis for wildlife in Hackney, but has suffered from the effects of pollution upstream and erosion from overuse.

This project will help to make it greener, reduce pollution, and encourage wildlife to return to its banks.

It’s great to see volunteers from the Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston get this project under way and it’ll be exciting to see how it develops in the coming months.

Aled Richards, Strategic Director, Sustainability and Public Realm

Lee Valley Regional Park Authority is delighted to work alongside Hackney Council and the Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston to seek enhancements to this stretch of the River Lea. It’s a fantastic example of grass roots action that will have a positive impact on the biodiversity potential of the river.” Cath Patrick, Conservation Manager.

Cath Patrick, Conservation Manager at the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority

It’s fantastic having the active support of Hackney Council and Lee Valley officers and so satisfying working with skilled and committed local people to reintroduce vegetation and habitat for a cleaner, greener, healthier and wilder river

Gideon Corby, from the Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston

Next up, the project will install tree kickers, which secure trees by river banks instead of allowing them to move downstream. This helps to improve conditions for fish and other aquatic life.

It will also remove non-native Himalayan balsam and Floating Pennywort to allow other native species to thrive.