New drive to get Hackney residents close to nature

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Thousands more residents will get close to nature and enjoy a green ‘oasis’ in the heart of Hackney, thanks to new funding for a nature conservation charity. 

London Wildlife Trust will run learning and conservation sessions offering people the chance to experience the wide variety of bird, animal and plant life at Woodberry Wetlands, in Stoke Newington. 

The charity will also give people the chance to get their fingers in the soil by taking part in a new community food growing project and to volunteer for hands-on conservation work such as reed-cutting.

The project, funded through a £216,000 grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder – hopes to reach up to 6,000 people, and is particularly aimed at under-represented groups living near the site. 

Dhruv Patel, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “Often those of us who live in London don’t realise the breadth and variety of nature that exists in the capital – sometimes right in the middle of some of its most built-up areas. 

“This funding will enable London Wildlife Trust to introduce thousands more Hackney residents to the natural beauty of Woodberry Wetlands and the diversity of flora and fauna which live there.” 

Woodberry Wetlands is on the site of the East Reservoir, created in the 1800s to store clean drinking water for the growing capital from the nearby New River, and opened to the public as a nature reserve in 2016. 

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Learning walks and talks to be offered under the scheme, which is due to start later this month, include history walks and walks offering people the chance to experience the dawn chorus. 

Andy Flegg, London Wildlife Trust’s senior sites and projects officer at Woodberry Woodlands, said: “Woodberry Wetlands is an oasis in the heart of Hackney, in an area where there’s been a lot of recent development, but we often find that people who have lived in the area for a long time don’t visit and enjoy the nature reserve as much as they could. 

“These activities will allow us to enable more people to experience the physical and mental health benefits of being outdoors, getting close to nature, growing their own food and venturing out and sharing experiences with other people. 

“These sessions are part of our commitment to making our sites accessible to as many people as possible and ensuring everyone can enjoy London’s nature.”

Activities will be promoted through local community groups, community centres, shops and libraries and via on-site notice boards. More information is available here.

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