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23/03/2022

Rewilding funding announced for projects in London

Words: Laura Edgar
Hedgehog in the city / Andysavchenko, Shutterstock_1410934661

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has awarded £600,000 from the Rewild London Fund to 19 projects that are intended to help nature recover.

The projects will help to restore wildlife habitats such as rivers, help species like water vole thrive, and to create meadows for pollinators and new wetlands for birds. They will also enable the monitoring of species such as hedgehogs to inform projects to reverse their decline.  

The announcement came last week (17 March) on the day that Enfield Council released two beavers into wetlands in Enfield. The beaver reintroduction heralds wider plans to improve the green belt, including the creation of new woodland with 100,000 trees, supported from the mayor’s Woodland Creation Fund.

Projects supported by the Rewild London Fund include:

  • Link the SINCs – (Sutton) The project will seek to test how recycled building materials can repurposed to create habitats for the small blue, chalk hill blue and dark green fritillary butterflies
  • King George’s Park – (Wandsworth) It will create new meadows to provide a vital habitat corridor for pollinators. Volunteers can get involved with the creation of new habitats and shire horses will be used to prepare the ground for wildflowers.
  • Get inVOLEd – (Kingston) Water voles have been extinct from the Hogsmill River since 2017. This project will reintroduce water voles and work with the local community to improve the river habitat corridor for them. Bioacoustic recording devices and camera traps will be used to monitor their progress.
  • Spider Park – (Hillingdon) Rewild London funding will join up existing SINCs along the Yeading Brook by creating new wildlife habitats (ponds, wetlands, meadows and scrub) to help make this park a more habitable environment for nature.
  • Greenway Pollinator Trail – (Newham) The Greenway is a hidden gem in East London: it is a 7km traffic-free pedestrian and cycle route and green corridor. The Greenway Pollinator Trail will create a ribbon of new habitats for bees, hoverflies, butterflies and other wild pollinators mapped across the whole length of the Greenway for people to enjoy. QR codes linking to educational resources will help enhance the experience for visitors of all ages.
  • Enfield Grazing – (Enfield)  This project will introduce large animal grazing to three sites to restore habitats and link Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation. The council will work with land management students at Capel Manor College to provide practical training opportunities that will supplement their studies.

The 19 rewilding projects are intended to enhance and connect 54 of London’s Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs), as well as create more natural habitats for plants and animals to thrive. 

Khan said: “During the pandemic, we came to appreciate just how important green spaces and contact with nature are for our health and wellbeing. That’s why I’m doing everything I can to ensure that all Londoners, especially those without outside space, can access local parks and meadows.

“These projects will not only help to improve London’s biodiversity but will also help enrich the lives of Londoners.

“As well as funding projects through the Rewild London Find, I’m also bringing together a group of experts to consider further opportunities for rewilding the city so we can continue making London an even better home for wildlife an even more enjoyable place to live."

The rewinding task force will convene in April to explore opportunities for more ambitious and innovative projects.

Beccy Speight, chief executive at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said: “Nature is in crisis – as the State of Nature report makes clear, around half of UK species are in decline and 15 per cent are threatened with being lost completely.

“So nature needs urgent help – and the pandemic has demonstrated just how much people also need nature and access to it. Polling commissioned by the RSPB in 2020 found that nine out of 10 respondents agreed that increasing the amount of accessible nature-rich green space would help to improve people’s health, wellbeing and happiness. 

“The announcement by Mayor Sadiq Khan is good news for nature and good news for London’s communities, signalling an important step towards a healthier future for the city, and the RSPB looks forward to playing our role through the London Rewilding Taskforce."

Image credit | Andy Savchenko, Shutterstock

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