Posted 24th Mar 2016 by Peter Byrne
Sir David Attenborough is set to open a wild haven in London which has been unseen for almost 200 years
Attenborough is set to launch London Wildlife Trust's new flagship nature reserve, Woodberry Wetlands on Saturday 30th April, in a move which will set a new bar for 21st century nature conservation, providing inspirational showcase of the value nature can have for those living in high-rise London.
Located in Stoke Newington, the stunning wildlife oasis spans 11 hectares, with the focus of the haven being a reservoir which was originally built in 1833, but closed to the public ever since. The reserve is already attracting a new breed of young, urban conservation volunteer.
From 1955-1980 the reservoir was pumped with chlorine and sodium phosphate to disinfect the water, yet this also prevented wildlife living there. After this, nature began to thrive, playing home to many animals that are not normally seen in London.
Six years ago, the London Wildlife Trust started work on plans that would make a public nature reserve with aid from the private and public sectors, and have now created a 13,000m2 of reedbed, planting 550m2 of hedgerow, wildflower meadows and fruit trees to attract birds, bees, butterflies and other insects.
It will open it's doors to the public on Sunday 1 May.
The reservoir was originally built as a site to store drinking water but it was quickly recognised for its value to wildlife, being designated a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation in 1987. In 2007 the London Wildlife Trust started working on a community garden in a closed corner, beginning to convert the reservoir into a nature reserve in 2010, with the aid of partners such as landowner Thames Water. Conservation of the built and natural heritage is a key part of the project, aiming to bring people closer to nature.
Speaking about it was Stephanie Hilborne OBE, chief executive of The Wildlife Trust, who said: “The Wildlife Trusts care for over 2,000 wild havens around the UK - refuges for wildlife until our wider countryside and cities become more hospitable to the animals and plants with which we share the world. These are natural places that people can enjoy day after day - and in urban areas they are particularly valuable as wild oases where people can switch off, be soothed by the rustle of wind blowing through reeds or be thrilled by the sight of a kingfisher. Woodberry Wetlands is the inspirational outcome of years of dedicated effort and a great partnership with Thames Water.”
Image courtesy of Penny Dixie / The Woodland Trust