Monday, 13 June 2016

SLM Digest 11-5-16

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Save Lea Marshes is an open group of  local people concerned to keep the marshes and green spaces of the Lea Valley open and green for wildlife and local people.  For further information go to

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SLM Weekly Digest

Keep Our Marshes Open and Green!

Image of the week tweeted from Walthamstow Marshes on a beautiful day by @therecorddeckuk

Firstly an apology, your ever so trusty CC asked me to do the digest last week and what with one thing and another, the time in front of my computer to compose it never appeared, partly due to looking for an abode in a more affordable part of the Lee Valley - so now instead you have a bumper digest this week! 

Leyton Marsh: a blooming lovely future?

Ice Rink Sessions about the future of the ice centre on Lea Bridge Road took place the week before last. The Saturday session was attended by mainly residents and SLM members.  Hackney residents were objecting to it being on Leyton Marsh and others were putting forward the views of those from Markhouse ward who wanted it on the Waterworks site.  SLM members asked a series of questions.  The lack of notification of the meetings was raised and confirmed by almost everyone there – none of the Hackney or Waltham Forest residents had had anything put through their letterboxes nor seen any signs.  We have since heard that at least some of Riverside Close was leafleted. Chief Exec Shaun Dawson was asked what the process was and he pointed to a guy at the back who was in charge (not sure if his company was hired, or if he works for the LVRPA).  The guy said they’d put flyers through letterboxes within some small area from Leyton Marsh (residents from the flats said they hadn’t got any and couldn’t live closer) but didn’t cover areas around the other locations.  He also claimed he’s put them up all around the marshes.  When an SLM member said there weren’t any  but had put some up only to see they were taken down, he said maybe the same people who took ours down took his down.  Shaun Dawson insisted that the sessions were not “consultation”.  There seemed to be a large number of people in the room who weren't impressed with the information presented as the conclusions were not properly explained.

There is some better news in that nature has helped out in beginning to recreate the habitat that the LVRPA and ODA failed to reinstate on the site of the 'temporary' basketball site - in a rare rain-free interlude today I spotted dandelions, daisies, plantain and other species not really seen since the 'sports turf' specialists rolled out their version of golf course on top of Leyton Marsh. The new(ish) ranger Eamonn also sent us an update about Leyton Marsh plans (note no reference was made of the former basketball site and a conspicuous absence of reference to glyphosate)  but there appear to be some good plans - we have lobbied for a long time to see an increase in less frequently mown areas of the marsh so are pleased to see this happening:

"During 2013, an extended Phase I and NVC habitat survey was carried out by London Wildlife Trust for the site on behalf. The report provided an assessment of the habitat quality and provided some recommendations for us to incorporate into our management plan for the site.

Grassland Management: 
The short turf amenity grassland area was reduced in size and these areas are now included in our grassland meadow management programme. This area was scarified in 2013 & ’14 to remove thatch and improve the ground for seeding with native wildflower species.
Sections of existing meadow grassland have been cut on alternate years during in September.

Woodland Management:
Essex Wharf holds some of our last mature woodland. Most of this is located on the island which is owned by Canal & River Trust. Lee Valley Park own and manage the mainland section. There are plans being developed to addressing this section and we hope to involve Thames 21 who have been advising us of options. This, we hope, will begin next season.

Scrub Management
Most of the woodland surrounding Leyton Marsh is in the form of scrub. Rather than promote mature woodland which would be limited in size and extent we are instead opting for mixed scrub. This will provide for a more diverse range of birds and other species.
The scrub areas received some thinning this winter with the aim of encouraging greater ground flora diversity. This thinning will continue next winter along the eastern edge which has become very densely grown and shaded over.

Tree planting: 
This winter, we planted 120 whips of native origin around different areas of Leyton marsh with the aim of increasing lower story/shrub cover; something we lack at present. This I hope to continue over the next few seasons.

Poplar Management:
Our row of Native Black Poplar along the northern edge of Leyton Marsh is ageing and more prone to damage and symptoms of old age. Last winter, we planted in more N.Black Poplar between some of the trees to provide for the next generation.

Invasive Species:
Several areas of invasive giant bramble were cleared at sections of the marsh to reduce its extent and to provide opportunities for other native plants to grow instead. These areas were replaced with the aforementioned native trees that were planted. These areas will receive management over the next few seasons to help the trees grow successfully.
Japanese Knotweed and G. Hogweed have both been identified at several locations and are monitored closely. They are subject to our annual invasive species management programme.

Birds: We recently purchased several bird boxes this March and I hope to install them across the marshes for next season.

Bats: We recently purchased a number of bat boxes which we also intend to use across the marshes. I will be inviting an advisor from London Bat Group to help us install for next season.

Site Management Workshops: Over the past several years, we have run Site Management Workshops. This takes in Leyton and Walthamstow Marshes providing an insight into the various management practices, what’s current and project updates for the sites. This is open to everyone and anyone and are held a 2 or 3 times a year. The last was April 30th and is advertised through our website and through our information boards.

Community Engagement: With everything we do on Leyton Marsh, we try to involve the local community. Nearly all of the work which was completed this past year was with the assistance of Lee Valley Volunteers, Lea Bridge Road Conservation Volunteers, The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and our staff rangers."

Spring Migration: A tale from the wetlands

Check out this video by the London Wildlife Trust shared by Wetlands Steve this week - it features ornithologist Peter Beckenham talking about species spotted on Walthamstow Wetlands, including a common buzzard! As he says, Walthamstow is a hotspot for birds, due of course to the wonderful green spaces in this area:

A Familiar Tale

History of Stokey this week shared a fascinating commentary piece highlighting the fact that in the North of Hackney, areas previously green have been swallowed up and the only green lung that remains is Clissold Park. The date? 1886. The trend for building on green has sadly lasted although the voices speaking out for nature and green space have not died out...

Tip-toeing through the marshes!

The image above shows the maps collated by Tales from the Marsh project at The Mill. To find out more about the workshops on offer for girls and women exploring Walthamstow Marshes through drama, movement, storytelling and art, visit:

Trashing Green Space

Over in gentrified London Fields, people enjoyed the sunny spell like the rest of us but left their rubbish everywhere. Images of the sight facing Council workers was shared by Greener Hackney and taken up nationally by Greenpeace as reminder to respect our green spaces and not trash them:

More Skyscrapers to Scrape Walthamstow Skies

The Waltham Forest Echo this week reported on the approval to build hundreds of homes on an old industrial site in the St James area of Walthamstow. Across the two sites there will be 656 homes however only 122 homes, less than 19 percent of the total planned, will be designated ‘affordable’. The borough’s own affordable homes target is 50 percent. Read more on the scheme here:

Wetlands For All?

The May Day bank holiday saw the opening of Woodberry Wetlands. The site has not been open to the public for 200 years and the excitement was elevated by the guest appearance of David Attenborough who turned 90 this week and stressed the importance of assisting wildlife and improving everyone's access to nature. East London Lines and many other outlets covered the story of how the former Stoke Newington East Reservoir has been transformed from a site of heavily contaminated water to the vibrant lake and reed beds on display to the public today. However others were keen to point out that access to nature has become a class issue, since the very same Woodberry area was the site of the heavily criticised 'social cleansing' project which saw hundreds of former residents decanted elsewhere against their will. This excellent analysis appeared in The Guardian newspaper:

Will the new Mayor make space for us?

Growers in Waltham Forest are demanding that the new mayor make space for community food growing projects in the capital. Waltham Forest is one of the 'leading lights' for community food growing in London Read more here


Lea Bridge Station Opening Party - On 16th May at 6pm the Hare & Hounds pub will be hosting a party celebrating the opening of Lea Bridge Station after many many years! Our late friend and fellow campaigner Katy Andrews campaigned for many years for the reopening and we wish she were here to see it happen. However, you can be, join the Facebook event here

Tree Musketeers Sessions:

Thurs 5th May - watering new trees - Well Street Common - 6pm - 7.30pm   

Sun 15th May - watering new trees - Hackney Downs - 6pm - 8pm

Sun 22nd May - watering new trees - South Millfields - 10.30am - 1pm

Mon 23rd May - watering new trees - Clissold Park - 6pm - 8pm

Sat 28th May - Tree Nursery Saturday - Hackney Community Tree Nursery - 10am - 2pm

Mon 6th June - watering new trees - Downs or WSC (venue to be confirmed) - 6pm - 8pm

Sun 12th June - watering new trees - South Millfields - 6pm - 8pm

See the Sustainable Hackney events page for more details.

Our next meeting - postponed from this week, will be next Monday 16th May at 7.30pm at the Princess of Wales pub. All welcome.
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