Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Help make Walthamstow wilder

Katherine Stansfeld from BlueGreenE17 Project invites residents to help make Walthamstow wilder

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Comma Butterfly in Walthamstow (credit: BlueGreenE17 Project)
By Waltham Forest Echo 28 June 2022

One of the great things about Walthamstow, I often tell people from other parts of London, is its green spaces. The Wetlands, the River Lea, the Marshes, the parks and Epping Forest are all on the doorstep. It might be hard to imagine how the area could get any greener but I - and others like me - have a plan to do just that.One of the great things about Walthamstow, I often tell people from other parts of London, is its green spaces. The Wetlands, the River Lea, the Marshes, the parks and Epping Forest are all on the doorstep. It might be hard to imagine how the area could get any greener but I - and others like me - have a plan to do just that.

I am part of a new research project called “Blue GreenE17”, made up of a team of environmental scientists and urban geographers at Queen Mary University of London. Our aim is to work with local communities and organisations to create a vision for a wilder, greener Walthamstow that benefits both its people and its wildlife. I am part of a new research project called “Blue GreenE17”, made up of a team of environmental scientists and urban geographers at Queen Mary University of London. Our aim is to work with local communities and organisations to create a vision for a wilder, greener Walthamstow that benefits both its people and its wildlife. 

We’re focusing much of our attention on “rewilding”, a radical nature-led approach to conservation that returns land to its wild state, including by reintroducing native animal species. Rewilding has been pitched as a vital tool to reverse the decline of biodiversity and respond to the climate emergency but so far has mainly been implemented in Britain’s more rural areas. We’re keen to explore what it would mean to bring this approach to the cities. We’re focusing much of our attention on “rewilding”, a radical nature-led approach to conservation that returns land to its wild state, including by reintroducing native animal species. Rewilding has been pitched as a vital tool to reverse the decline of biodiversity and respond to the climate emergency but so far has mainly been implemented in Britain’s more rural areas. We’re keen to explore what it would mean to bring this approach to the cities. 

Walthamstow Wetlands (credit: Blue GreenE17)Walthamstow Wetlands (credit: Blue GreenE17)

Studies have shown that making more space for nature in cities can improve residents’ physical and mental health, reduce air and noise pollution, increase biodiversity and improve the resilience of urban environments to future climate change. New green and “blue” spaces - such as ponds or lakes - have recently popped up in the area, ranging in scale from the Walthamstow Wetlands project to the introduction of “parklets” on top of parking spaces. With your help, we want to see if this can go even further. Studies have shown that making more space for nature in cities can improve residents’ physical and mental health, reduce air and noise pollution, increase biodiversity and improve the resilience of urban environments to future climate change. New green and “blue” spaces - such as ponds or lakes - have recently popped up in the area, ranging in scale from the Walthamstow Wetlands project to the introduction of “parklets” on top of parking spaces. With your help, we want to see if this can go even further. 

The first step - and where residents come in - is to map different experiences of blue and green spaces in Walthamstow. We are inviting you to participate in our Photo Mapping survey by submitting pictures of any local natural spots you feel connected to and contributing ideas for a greener, wilder Walthamstow. We hope that, by creating an original dataset, our research could influence future policy. The first step - and where residents come in - is to map different experiences of blue and green spaces in Walthamstow. We are inviting you to participate in our Photo Mapping survey by submitting pictures of any local natural spots you feel connected to and contributing ideas for a greener, wilder Walthamstow. We hope that, by creating an original dataset, our research could influence future policy. 

All residents of E17 who are over 18 can take part, although family submissions on behalf of children are encouraged. The survey is open until 15th July hereAll residents of E17 who are over 18 can take part, although family submissions on behalf of children are encouraged. The survey is open until 15th July here

For more information on the project, visit our websiteFor more information on the project, visit our website